Panama is on their way to the Gold Cup final. The Canaleros registered their second 2-1 win over Mexico in the 2013 Gold Cup, this time in the semifinals thanks to goals by Blas Perez and Roman Torres. Now they will meet the United States on Sunday in Chicago, where the CONCACAF championship will be on the line.
But while Panama celebrates, Mexico is reeling. Not only did they fall short of the final, but they cannot even argue that they put up a good fight, having been fairly beaten by Panama twice to finish rightly outside of the top two. With this elimination, along with Mexico's struggles in World Cup qualification and the Confederations Cup, the embattled Jose Manuel "Chepo" de la Torre may not be at the helm of El Tri for much longer.
Perez put Panama in front after just 13 minutes when a bad Mexico giveaway gave the Canaleros a chance to get forward. The ball found Perez on the right, who, despite a sharp angle, ripped a shot past Jonathan Orozco to quiet the green-clad crowd of over more than 80,000 at Cowboys Stadium.
Mexico got back in the match before the half-hour mark when Luis Montes got on the end of a wonderful Marco Fabian cross. After leveling, they began to find their feet. But even with the stronger play, the rest of their chances went begging. After 15 minutes, the hesitation that plagued them throughout the tournament returned.
The second half went much like the first. Both teams had chances, but Panama showed more organization and composure, while Mexico struggled to pull things together. Even when El Tri had chances, it was the result of great individual play.
All the while, the Canaleros maintained their shape and continued to lean upon their physicality. That paid off in the 61st minute when Torres easily got away from Joel Huiqui on a corner kick and headed home what would prove to be the match-winner.
Mexico did their best to equalize, but all their crosses into the box either found the heads of the resolute Panamanians or were cleared away not long after a Mexican got a touch to it. They couldn't find a way through, and when the final whistle went, they couldn't do anything but slump to the ground.
Panama stormed the field, celebrating in front of a stunned stadium. They had bested Mexico for a second time and their Gold Cup dream remains alive. Next up, the United States and the final, where they can win their first ever Gold Cup.