Panama players swarm goalkeeper Jaime Penedo (yellow jersey) after his save in the penalty kick shootout against Trinidad & Tobago lifted the 2013 runner-up to the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup semifinals. (Photo: Mexsport)
EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey – Jaime Penedo made two saves as Panama advanced to the CONCACAF Gold Cup semifinals 6-5 on penalty kicks after the teams played to a 1-1 draw in the first game of a quarterfinal doubleheader at MetLife Stadium on Sunday.
Panama will next face either Mexico or Costa Rica, while the defending champion United States takes on Jamaica in a pair of semifinal matches on Wednesday at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.
The shootout didn’t start favorably for the Panamanians with captain Roman Torres putting the first attempt over the crossbar. The Soca Warriors had a chance to progress after Marvin Phillip saved Alberto Quintero’s shot in the seventh round, but Daneil Cyrus chipped his subsequent attempt over the bar.
Blas Perez and Andre Boucard exchanged makes, before Valentin Pimentel gave Panama a 6-5 advantage by putting his team’s ninth attempt up the middle. Lester Peltier stepped forward in a bid to level, but Penedo tipped his shot off the right post to seal advancement for the Canaleros.
The result was almost 10 years to the day that Penedo and Panama fell to the United States in the final on penalty kicks at Giants Stadium.
Luis Tejada broke the scoreless stalemate in the 37th minute, capitalizing on a defensive breakdown by the Caribbean runner-up. Abu Bakr struggled to deal with Pimentel’s dangerous cross just inside the box and Sheldon Bateau’s attempted clearance deflected right to Tejada. The 33-year-old forward tapped past Marvin Phillip from 10 yards out for his second goal of the tournament.
An unmarked Kenywne Jones leveled for the Soca Warriors in the 54th minute. The 2006 FIFA World Cup veteran latched onto a free kick by Khaleem Hyland and headed home from eight yards out.
It is the fourth time this tournament that Panama conceded the equalizing goal in the second half after taking a 1-0 lead.
In the 78th minute, Torres attempted to restore the Central Americans’ lead, but his header off an Armando Cooper corner was wide of the net. The 29-year-old defender scored the lone goal in a friendly between the sides in March.
Six minutes later, a fantastic individual effort by Cooper nearly put the Canaleros back in front. He skipped past one defender into the box and cut inside of another only to see his first shot be blocked and the second effort be saved by a diving Phillip.
An unmarked Perez had an even better chance in the first minute of second-half stoppage time, knocking Erick Davis’ left-sided cross wide of the left post.
Trinidad’s best chance of the first half came deep into stoppage time. However, Jones’ diving header off a right-sided cross by Cyrus was wide.
Panama will compete in the Gold Cup semifinals for a third consecutive time, while Trinidad was eliminated at the quarterfinal stage for the second straight edition.
• Panama has conceded one goal or fewer in 14 straight CONCACAF Gold Cup games.
• Panama is 1W-3D-2L in six all-time CONCACAF Gold Cup quarterfinals outings
• Trinidad & Tobago has not advanced to a CONCACAF Gold Cup semifinal since 2000.