Panama outplays Soca Warriors 2-0

Two sec­ond-half goals by Ar­man­do Coop­er in the 52nd and Edgar Barce­nas in the 68th minute for Pana­ma, con­fined T&T to its first de­feat 2-0 in Group D of the CON­CA­CAF Gold Cup in the Unit­ed States on Tues­day night.

The re­sult now means that the So­ca War­riors will have to get a re­sult each when they face the host in their sec­ond match on Sat­ur­day, and then four days lat­er when they take on re­gion­al ri­vals Guyana.

De­spite a quick start by the T&T team at the Al­lianz Field in Min­neso­ta, USA, in the ear­ly mo­ments, the re­sult ap­peared to have been on­ly a mat­ter of time, once the Pana­ma­ni­ans set­tled and dom­i­nat­ed the match.

Nathan Lewis twice in the first half used his speed to telling ef­fect down the right flank, but on both oc­ca­sions his at­tempt to pick out Jo­mal Williams was bro­ken down by the quick in­ter­ven­tion of de­fend­er Fi­del Es­co­bar. Soon af­ter, Levi Gar­cia, on one of his sweep­ing runs at the Pana­ma de­fence, tried to thread one to Lewis, but it was again in­ter­cept­ed by the steady de­fence. Pana­ma's in­abil­i­ty to hit the tar­get pre­vent­ed any chance they had of tak­ing the ad­van­tage at the half and the teams went to the break with the scores at 0-0.

How­ev­er, at the re­sump­tion the Pana­ma­ni­ans quick­ly picked up from where they left off and were re­ward­ed for their pos­ses­sion.

Coop­er found him­self at the end of an­oth­er neat build-up in­side the T&T penal­ty area and de­spite the chal­lenge by skip­per Khaleem Hy­land, Coop­er raced past the ad­vanc­ing TT goalie Mar­vin Phillips, be­fore slot­ting the ball in­to an emp­ty goal for the lead.

Mo­ments lat­er, the Pana­ma­ni­ans were un­lucky not to score again in the 61st minute from an­oth­er sweep­ing build-up that saw Gabriel Tor­res re­lease to an un­marked Es­co­bar. But Es­co­bar's thump­ing shot from some 20 yards out was pushed wide by Philips.

T&T, who were bogged down by the mid­field­ers' in­abil­i­ty to be cre­ative in the cen­tre, cou­pled with the de­fend­ers' re­luc­tance to sup­ply the pass­es when they were in pos­ses­sion of the ball, cre­at­ed lit­tle goal-scor­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties.

Still, Gar­cia had the Pana­ma de­fence back­ing when he cut in from the left side on to his un­favourable right foot, be­fore hit­ting high over the bars.

But the Pana­ma­ni­ans lat­er sealed the win de­spite the bril­liance of Philips. Tor­res, who was picked out un­marked on the left side, elud­ed his mark­er and re­leased a thun­der­ous right-foot­er that Philips some­how dived low to keep out. He then kept out a blis­ter­ing dri­ve from Coop­er on the re­bound, but could not stop Barce­nas from putting the ball in­to an open net be­fore the re­ac­tion of any T&T de­fend­er.

RE­SULT: PANA­MA 1 (Ar­man­do Coop­er 53rd, Edgar Barce­nas 69th) v T&T 0

Reporter: Walter Alibey

Teams:

T&T: Mar­vin Phillip, Alvin Jones, Daneil Cyrus, Aubrey David, Mekeil Williams, Khaleem Hy­land, Kevin Moli­no, Ke­van George (Le­ston Paul 46th), Nathan Lewis (Cordell Cato 83rd), Levi Gar­cía, Jo­mal Williams (Jo­evin Jones 46th)

PANA­MA: Luis Mejía, Michael Muril­lo, Román Tor­res (Ab­diel Ar­royo 85th), Hárold Cum­mings, Éric Davis, Édgar Bárce­nas, Fi­del Es­co­bar, Ar­man­do Coop­er, Al­ber­to Quin­tero (Omar Brown 89th), José Fa­jar­do (Ernesto Wak­er 78th), Gabriel Tor­res

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