ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Roman Torres’ glancing header off a corner kick helped Panama beat Mexico 2-1 on Wednesday night and earn a spot in the CONCACAF Gold Cup final.
Torres’ goal in the 61st minute came off a corner from teammate Gabriel Torres. With a one-goal cushion, Panama was able to survive a Mexican attack that produced four good scoring opportunities over the next 30 minutes.
Panama will play the United States on Sunday in Chicago for the Gold Cup championship. The teams played in the 2005 Gold Cup final, won by the U.S. on penalty kicks.
Blas Perez struck first, giving Panama a 1-0 lead in the 13th minute when he blasted a shot to the near post, beating goalkeeper Jonathan Orozco.
In the 26th minute, Mexico’s Marco Fabian faked a defender deep in the box and then lofted a cross to the far side of the goal. Luis Montes’ diving header sent the ball into the far upper corner for the tying goal.
After Torres’ goal, Mexico squandered multiple scoring opportunities. In the 70th minute, Panama goalkeeper Jaime Pendo made a diving save on a shot by Jorge Enriquez. Three minutes later, Montes missed just wide.
Pendo also made a fingertip save on Isaac Brizuela’s shot, pushing the ball on top of the net. In the 89th minute, Javier Orozco’s diving header missed wide by inches.
Mexico was seeking a fourth straight final against the U.S. Mexico had won the last two by a combined score of 9-2.
It was just the second time in 15 matches that Panama defeated Mexico.
“It’s frustrating. We fell short of one of our objectives,” Mexico coach Jose Manuel de la Torre said. “We wanted to be in the final.”