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
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