Mexico reach Gold Cup final with endless supply of late penalties, Panama not amused

You know that feeling when no matter how bad your day goes, you know you’ve got some pizza and cake in the fridge back home and that will make everything all better? Well that must be how Mexico have felt during their last two Gold Cup matches.

They reached the Gold Cup semifinals with a gift of a penalty at the end of extra time against Costa Rica after being unable to score for 120 minutes. Then against Panama in the semifinal, their opponents were reduced to 10 men in just the 25th minute. Despite the disadvantage, Panama still scored first and played the last half hour with a 1-0 lead and just 10 men. Then it happened.

Mexico were awarded another late penalty when a Panama defender fell on top of the ball and was called for a handball by U.S. referee Mark Geiger. A furious Panama nearly walked off right then and there, but after a long delay, Andres Guardado converted the penalty and the match went to extra time. And in the first period of extra time, Mexico were awarded yet another penalty, this one far more legitimate, though. Guardado again converted from the spot and Mexico won 2-1, putting them in the final against Jamaica.

The rage over that first penalty of the night did not subside, though. The match officials had to be escorted off the pitch as Panama’s coaching staff tried to chase them down to argue some more. To their credit, both Guardado and Mexico coach Miguel Herrara told the press that they didn’t agree with the first penalty decision.  

Panama newspaper Diario Critica made their anger and suspicion of foul play very clear on their front page.

And the Panama squad felt the same way, holding up a banner that read “CONCACAF thieves” once they returned to the dressing room. Presumably it was made years ago and has been passed from one team to another over the tournament’s history.

All the thumbs down really drive the message home.

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