Panama brand Gold Cup football semifinal defeat a ‘robbery’

Atlanta (Georgia), July 24 (IANS) Panama’s head coach Hernan Dario Gomez has slammed his side’s controversial semifinal defeat to Mexico in the CONCACAF Gold Cup as “utter robbery” and said the result has left a stain on football as a whole.

Panama, playing a man down from the 25th minute, led Mexico 1-0 until the 88th minute through captain Roman Torres’s header before referee Mark Geiger awarded a controversial penalty, which tilted the balance of the match at the Georgia Dome stadium on Wednesday night, reports CMC.

Torres took a tumble in the box and fell on top of the ball and Geiger astonishingly pointed to the spot.

“Logically I hope that all the press understands that what I am experiencing right now is difficult and hard. The press, more than us, are aware that things did not function well, in the legal way. Panama made an outstanding effort, with ten men,” a clearly dejected Gomez said on Thursday.

“I have been managing teams since 1987, and this is the first time that I experience this. With a team well worked, with athletes desiring to give their country another Gold Cup final, with a press that has accompanied and helped us out.

“If it was up to me, I could say ‘I do not want to continue in soccer anymore’, because that was horrible, it was an utter robbery.”

After an 11-minute stoppage during which Panama protested the call, scuffles broke out and beverages were tossed on the field by spectators, Andres Guardado converted the spot kick to draw Mexico level.

The forward then found the winner, also from the spot, in the first period of added extra time.

Gomez said the refereeing decisions had ruined an excellent game and had ultimately hurt the sport.

“There were two great teams on the pitch tonight, each team exhibiting good styles. The Mexican players or the team have nothing to do with what happened,” Gomez stressed.

“You cannot damage a final like this. When you put a team with 10 players against a team with 11 players, it hurts the game. However, I value more the capacity of the Panamanian players, for they played a tactical game against an immense rival with good possession of the ball that is Mexico. And Panama held its ground, and at times it was able to attack, and then we are up 1-0.”

“And then on minute 88 the penalty happened. You cannot determine a final in that manner. You can’t be serious. This has damaged not only football in general but the upcoming Gold Cup final. It ruins the beauty of the tournament,” he added.

Geiger had earlier sent off Luis Tejada for a hand to the face of Francisco Rodriguez, as the two battled for a ball. The call was another contentious one that resulted in vociferous protests from the Panamaian players.

The defeat saw Panama miss out on their second successive Gold Cup final.

Jamaica will take on Mexico in the final on Sunday.

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