Panama, Martinique Start Group C With 2-1 Wins
Los Canaleros and Les Matinino got out to two goal leads and held on after allowing stoppage time goals.
Panama and Martinique sit atop Group C after notching 2-1 wins over Costa Rica and El Salvador respectively.
PANAMA 2, COSTA RICA 1
Panama scored on either side of halftime before holding off a late Ticos charge in stoppage time for their 2-1 win.
It was all Panama in the early stages, with Yoel Bárcenas forcing an early save from onrushing Costa Rica keeper Kevin Chamorro who cut down the angle in the middle of his box. A Ticos counter in the 13th minute down the left flank by Josimar Alcócer ended with a weak shot on goal with potentially better options in the end.
The breakthrough happened in the 23rd minute when José Fajardo cut across his defender and smashed home a close header from an Eric Davis cross leaving Chamorro stranded with no time to react.
Panama almost doubled their lead in the 51st, when a partial clearance fell to Ismael Díaz at the top of the box and his shot was parried away by Chamorro. A few attacks later, Panama did have their second in the 68th when a recycled cross was settled and played to Amir Murillo who sent in a cross to the center of goal and Yoel Bárcenas’ guided header found the far post and into the net.
Costa Rica would get their consolation goal in stoppage time, Joel Campbell playing a nifty one-two with Aaron Suarez who rounded Panama keeper Orlando Mosquera and tucked home the finish. But it was too little too late for the Ticos, as the onslaught of Panama’s 10-for-15 shooting night and 60/40 possession edge was too much on the night.
In the first game at DRV PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, FL, Martinique used two quick first-half goals to build a large enough cushion to hold off El Salvador after being reduced to 10 men right after halftime.
El Salvador nearly had the opener in the first minute, when Kevin Reyes’ trailing run was nearly rewarded when a deflected ball fell to him wide open on the right side of the box. Martinique center back Florent Poulolo however slid over to protect the empty net and turned out the shot for a corner.
Ten minutes later, it was Les Matininos in front, as Poulolo created a turnover near midfield and found a streaking Patrick Burner who lived up to his namesake by turning on the jets to finish a magnificent 40-yard run with a far post finish. Five minutes after that Martinique doubled their advantage when Karl Fabien found a cutting Kévin Fortuné in the center of the area who tucked home a nifty outside of the side foot finish into the far post.
Martinique however were reduced to 10 men in the 47th when Jonathan Riviérez’s foul on Leonardo Menjívar was judged to be serious foul play.
El Salvador however did their best to get back into the match, forcing keeper Yannis Clémentia into a smart save from distance in the 55th and flying a close-range free kick over the bar in the 65th. A lengthy VAR review in the 82nd gave El Salvador a penalty, only to have Jairo Henríquez’s effort denied by Clementia. Another handball penalty in stoppage time gave another lifeline to El Salvador, this time Bryan Tamacas netted his first international goal from the spot despite a near kick save from Clementia as the match finished 2-1.
Panama and Martinique now top the Group C table on three points, and the two leaders will meet each other in the second group match on Friday June 30th at Red Bull Arena at 630pm. Costa Rica and El Salvador have the nightcap at RBA at 830pm.