Guardado PKs power Mexico into Gold Cup final

Andres Guardado (pictured) celebrates after scoring one of his two goals in Mexico's victory over Panama in the CONCACAF Gold Cup semifinals on July 22, 2015, in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo: Mexsport)

ATLANTA – Andres Guardado converted two penalty kicks and Mexico rallied for a 2-1 victory over 10-man Panama on Wednesday before a capacity crowd of 70,511 at the Georgia Dome to advance to the CONCACAF Gold Cup final for an eighth time.

The six-time champion will meet Jamaica, which ended the United States’ title defense with a 2-1 win earlier in the evening, on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.

Despite being reduced to 10 players in the 25th minute following Luis Tejada’s ejection, Panama was seconds away from making a second straight appearance in the final. That all changed after Roman Torres was called for a handball in the box and Mexico was awarded a penalty kick. Lengthy protestations followed, but Guardado eventually converted from the spot ten minutes into stoppage time to force an additional 30 minutes of play.

Mexico was presented with another penalty kick opportunity near the end of the first extra-time period, when Javier Orozco was fouled in the box by Harold Cummings.

Once again, the composed Guardado found the back of the net on the subsequent kick to give the Tricolor a 2-1 lead that it would not relinquish. It was the PSV Eindhoven star’s fifth goal of this Gold Cup and ninth overall.

Panama’s lone tally came in the 57th minute through Torres, who scored the game-winning goal against Mexico in the 2013 semifinals. Eric Davis delivered a right-sided corner to the far post as Torres outmuscled Francisco Javier Rodriguez to the ball, heading past goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa.

As compared to the match’s final 45 minutes, the first half was relatively uneventful with the exception of Tejada’s expulsion. The 33-year-old forward was shown a direct red card for using his hand and forearm to make contact with the face of Francisco Javier Rodriguez as both went up to contest a high ball.

Mexico, which lost to Panama twice in the 2013 Gold Cup, will square off against Jamaica for the first time in the Gold Cup since 2005.