With a lonely score from offensive player Ricardo “Patón” Phillips, the Panamanian representation claimed the second spot in the grand finale of the Copa de Naciones Digicel last night, after defeating Honduras 1 – 0.
Panama knew how to resist the constant battering of the catrachos and played its way through to the final match of the tournament, where it will battle it out to become champions of Central America and winners of the Copa de Naciones Digicel.
The outcome of the game left the full house of fans speechless. The Hondurans in attendance fully expected their team – who went into the match as favorites – to sail through to the grand finale.
Panama, however, had done its homework on the competition. They knew how to take the ball away from them, defend themselves when necessary and execute effective counterattacks. The Hondurans started their play as expected, with much rhythm and an offensive stance, but during the 10th minute of the first half, Honduran player, Danilo Turcios, took his chance with a powerful shot at the goal which Jaime Penedo safely saved.
Honduras, motivated by the cheers of an exited crowd, kept pushing forward and attempted to break through the Panamanian lock commanded by Technical Director Stempel. However, their attempts were futile and never made it past goal keeper Penedo’s hands.
19 minutes into the game saw Marvin Chavez take his chance from outside the box to lob the ball high in the air to the delight of the roaring crowd, but missed the spot in the nets as Penedo made a heroic save.
The final surprise for the local team and joy for the visitors came on minute 39, when Ricardo “Paton” Phillips got rid of several defenders with a contending blow which defeated goalie Noel Valladares and scored a fantastic goal that put Panama in the lead.
In response, the Hondurans pressed harder in search of tying the score before the end of the first half, but Armando Guevara’s shot at goal with a free kick was once again saved by Penedo.
During the second half of the game, Honduras continued to pile on the pressure with Panama’s goal keeper making save after save. But the savage Honduran attack went on with Oscar Garcia, Emil Martinez, Carlos Pavon and Amado Guevara all challenging Pendeo to the best of his abilities, but to no avail.
In the end, Honduras was not able seal the deal and claim the coveted place in the finals – they now face El Salvador on Sunday in the hope of placing third in the Copa Digicel.
For more information on the Copa de Naciones Digicel, logon to www.digicelfootball.com
Honduras: 18. Noel Valladares, 2. Osman Chávez, 5. Erick Norales, 7. Emíl Martínez, 10 Danilo Turcios, 11. Saúl Martínez (13. Roger Espinoza 81 minutos), 12. Marvin Chávez (9. Carlos Pavón 65 minutos), 14. Oscar García, 20. Amado Guevara (8. Carlos Will Mejía 85 minutos), 23. Iván Guerrero, 25. Hendry Thomas.
Panamá: 1. Jaime Penedo, 2. Carlos Rivera, 4. José Torres, 5. Manuel Torres, 6. Amilcar Enríquez, 8. Gabriel Torres (16. Eduardo Jiménez 65 minutos), 9. Orlando Rodríguez, 10. Nelson Barahona (20. Luís Jaramillo 72 minutos), 13. Armando Gun, 14. Adolfo Machado, 15. Ricardo Phillips (Eybir Bonaga 88 minutos).
Referee: Carlos Batres (Guatemala)