El Tri has been lucky to thrive this edition of the Gold Cup, and once again, luck favored them on Wednesday at Georgia Dome in Atlanta against Panama in the second semifinal. Now, Mexico has one hand on the trophy. Considering their fortune this time, Jamaica shouldn’t be a big hindrance in the finals.
Record books will say that Mexico defeated Panama, reduced to 10-men 2-1 in the semifinals of the Gold Cup. Both Mexican goals came from penalties, converted by skipper Andres Guardado. Those are barren facts, but they barely unfold the farce staged inside Georgia Dome on Wednesday.
Mexico won through a last-minute penalty decision against Costa Rica on Saturday in the quarterfinals. On Wednesday they were awarded two more. Both teams were unnecessarily physical rather than showing any attempt to dish out positive football. And poor officiating, in addition, reduced the game to chaos.
Referee Mark Geiger reduced Panama to 10 men after he pulled forward Luis Tejada‘s cynical challenge on Mexico’s Francisco Rodriguez, misreading the latter’s play-acting. The penalty he awarded to Mexico in the 89th minute was highly controversial and sparked a 10-minute stoppage, as beverages and scuffles flew in from stands. Torres fell on the ball after an attempted clearance, and clearly there was no foul. Mexico cancelled Roman Torres’ opening goal and the match went to extra time.
Hernan Gomez, Panama coach, called the equalizer a “stolen goal” and said he was left with “immense sadness.”
“I ask myself why did this happen?” Gomez said via a translator. “We were doing everything well. It is very sad. We are people of football and I still can’t believe this happened and I wonder if this really happened.”
The referee once more pointed to the dreaded spot in the extra time, and this time it was justified. Guardado notched up the win and El Tri is now up against Jamaica in Philadelphia on Sunday.
The Panama players later posed for a photo with a poster that read “CONCACAF Thieves” and “Corrupt.”
— Libros de futbol (@futbologia) July 23, 2015