CLEVELAND, Ohio – Panama (2W-1D-0L, 7 points) booked its seventh consecutive trip to the CONCACAF Gold Cup quarterfinals thanks to an impressive 3-0 win over Martinique (1-0-2, 3) on Saturday at FirstEnergy Stadium.
The result provisionally placed the Canaleros at the top of the Group B standings, but the United States (1-1-0, 4) could overtake them with a win of three goals or more against previously-eliminated Nicaragua (0-0-2, 0) later in the evening.
Michael Murillo put Panama ahead 1-0 in the 44th minute, when headed home from 12-yards out off Miguel Camargo’s inward-curling cross from the left.
Martinique suffered a game-changing loss in the 33rd minute as influential attacker Johan Audel, who has a tournament-leading three assists, left the match with an apparent injury and was replaced by Daniel Herelle.
The Caribbean power had an opportunity to level in the 55th minute, but Sebastien Cretinoir’s right-footed effort forced a superb save from Panama goalkeeper Jose Calderon.
Five minutes later, Abdiel Arroyo made Martinique rue that miss opportunity. Arroyo glanced a header off a right-sided corner kick into the body of defender Jordy Delem. The ball ricocheted back to the 23-year-old forward, whose left-footed return from 12-yards out deflected off Delem’s outstretched foot and into the back of the net.
Panama struck for a 67th-minute insurance goal to complete the scoreline. Anibal Godoy served a ball into the box that the moving Gabriel Torres was able to chest down in the box, before slipping a right-footed effort into the back of the net from three-yards out.
After going winless in eight straight Gold Cup outings, Panama has won its last two games.