ARLINGTON, Texas -- Panama earned a spot in its second CONCACAF Gold Cup final, topping two-time defending champion Mexico, 2-1, in the semifinals on Wednesday.
Roman Torres snapped a 1-1 deadlock in the 61st minute for the Canaleros, who also reached the championship game in 2005.
Panama will meet the United States in Sunday’s final at Soldier Field in Chicago.
Striker Blas Perez also scored for the Central American side, while Luis Montes tallied for the Mexicans before 81,410 spectators at Cowboys Stadium.
It was the second largest crowd for a Gold Cup semifinal and the biggest for a semifinal date played in the United States. The confederation record is 110,000 at Mexico City’s Estadio Azteca in 1993.
It was the second time the Panamanians defeated Mexico in the tournament as they registered a 2-1 win in Group A action on opening day on July 7.
Perez gave the Panamanians a 1-0 lead in the 13th minute. Alberto Quintero penetrated deep into Mexico territory, sending the ball to the FC Dallas forward on the right side of the penalty area. He fired a shot from a difficult angle seven yards out that beat goalkeeper Jonathan Orozco at the near post.
Perez, the only player to have scored in the last four Gold Cups, recorded his third goal of the tournament and 10th career goal in the competition.
The Mexicans, however, leveled in the 26th minute. Marco Fabian delivered a cross from the left-wing to an unmarked Montes, who headed the ball past keeper Jaime Penedo. It was Montes' second goal of the competition.
Only two minutes after missing a bicycle kick, Torres broke the deadlock 16 minutes after the break. Gabriel Torres launched a corner kick to the unmarked defender, who headed the ball in from six yards into the far corner.
It was Torres' first Gold Cup goal.
The Mexicans pressed in search of another equalizer. Penedo produced a fabulous save on a hard shot by Rafael Marquez Lugo in the 70th minute and grabbed a one-bouncer from Fabian shortly afterwards. Montes then shot wide right in the 73rd minute.
Second-half substitute Isaac Brizuela found himself with a point-blank opportunity to tie things up, but Penedo somehow got a finger on the ball and tipped it out of bounds for a corner kick in the 79th minute.
Mexico had a last-gasp attempt as Javier Orozco placed a bullet header just wide of the net with a minute remaining in regulation.