Nobody expected a marquee matchup when Bolivia met Panama in Orlando. They're part of Group D in the Copa América Centenario alongside Argentina and Chile. To say that either team is a long shot to advance is a hilarious understatement. So if you can't dance with Messi, Alexis Sanchez and the rest, why not make a violent, rain-soaked wack-as-hell spectacle out of it?
That's exactly what happened in Panama's 2-1 victory. The first half was filled mostly with Bolivia running around like chickens with their heads cut off, while MLS stalwarts Alberto Quintero and Blas Pérez humiliated people.
ITS JUST BLAS AGAINST THE WORLD BABY pic.twitter.com/WCiulHyeDt— amadí tídíane thiam (@amadoit_) June 6, 2016
Even some dude on the sidelines got clowned on by a loose ball.
Yes, Bolivia is the lowest-ranked team in the tournament via the FIFA table. Sure, they barely trained before the tournament. It's a fact that they looked kinda goofy in the first half. At the same time, Panama's midfielders Gabriel Gomez and Anibal Godoy left space into which Bolivia could move, and they went neck-and-neck with Panama in shots.
Then the second half came, and the beginnings of Tropical Storm Colin opened up on the temporary grass surface at the Citrus Bowl. Balls were flying everywhere. Players started tripping over each other. The referee called fouls on 21 different players, with seven yellow cards and no reds issued. Commentator Eric Wynalda thought the ref did a great job; FOX officiating analyst Dr. Joe Machnik disagreed.
Amid the chaos, Bolivia's Juan Carlos Arce managed to collect a terrible free kick clearance from Harold Cummings to level the score in the 54th minute. But it didn't matter, because there was only one man who would have the last laugh. Few players have mastered the dark arts quite like Pérez, and he was drawing fouls left and right all game. Things were ready to boil over -- who can forget Panama's violent eruption at some bad calls in last year's Gold Cup semifinal against Mexico -- but Pérez silenced the haters in the 87th minute and gave Panama their first-ever Copa win.
Panama was likely to win, because Bolivia's program is in shambles right now. That didn't mean they couldn't help make this game delightfully silly. Some lazy refereeing, some Globetrotters-level antics by Panama, an impending natural disaster and Panama's wizard of subterfuge made this the most entertaining match yet in the Centenario. Let's hope there are a few more like it in the weeks to come.