Panama confirmed their spot in the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup Quarterfinals after a dominant 3-0 win over Martinique. Michael Murillo, Abdiel Orroyo and Gabriel Torres found net for Los Canaleros, who temporarily vaulted to the top of Group B.
Hernán Darío Gómez made four changes to the Panama starting XI from Wednesday’s 2-1 win over Nicaragua. Roberto Chen and Luis Ovalle replaced Roderick Miller and Eric Davis on the back line. Abdiel Arroyo and Armando Cooper got their first starts of the tournament in midfield.
For Martinique, the lineup for today’s game differed from their 3-2 defeat to the United States by just one player. Christof Jougon started for Les Matininos after appearing for just 13 minutes all tournament, coming on as a late sub in their win over Nicaragua in the tourney opener.
Both teams traded opportunities at each other’s goal throughout the first half. Even though Martinique had a 16 percent possession deficit, they actually outshot Panama 6-5 through the first 45. But late in the half, Los Canaleros began looking dangerous around Martinique’s goal. Three of their four shots on target, including two from Arroyo, came north of the 30 minute mark.
It included the breakthrough in the 44th minute off a short corner. Miguel Camargo passed it towards the end line and received it back on the give and go. He then centered it into the box and found Michael Murillo who headed it home past goalkeeper Kevin Olimpa.
The partnership on the goal was a perfect example of club rivals making it happen for their country. Camargo plays for New York City FC in MLS, while Murillo plies his trade across the Hudson River with the New York Red Bulls.
Los Canaleros dodged a bullet right before referee Roberto García Orozco blew the whistle for halftime. Martinique’s Steeven Langil, who scored as a sub against Nicaragua, found himself dribbling towards goalie Jose Calderon. But the Panamanian backstop was up to the task and quickly dove down towards his left to deny Langil.
As the second half wore on, Panama really began to exert more and more control over the game. Martinique found themselves on the back foot defending forays towards their goal. 15 minutes in, the Panamanians were rewarded for their efforts.
Gabriel Torres flew in a corner that Martinique’s Jordy Delem deflected right to the feet of Arroyo. And he made no mistake burying it past Olimpa to double Panama’s advantage. Much like the first goal, Martinique struggled mightily defending a corner kick and paid dearly for it.
It didn’t take long after that for an in-control Panama team to turn this into a rout. In the 67th minute, Anibal Godoy took the ball into the final third, tucked to his left, and floated a perfectly placed lob pass to Gabriel Torres. The former Colorado Rapids striker then effortlessly hit it past Olimpa near post to make it 3-0.
In addition to Langil’s late first half miss, Martinique missed another opportunity to avoid getting shut out late in the second half. Yann Thimon put a shot at goal in the 83rd minute, but it hit the cross bar and bounced down near the goal line but not past it. It pretty much summed up a disappointing performance for the Mariniquais.
With the win, Panama currently lead Group B and can wrap things up as long as the USMNT defeat Nicaragua by less than a three goal margin. For Martinique, they have an outside shot of qualifying for the quarterfinals. But they would need El Salvador to lose by more than two goals to Jamaica in Sunday’s Group C finale.
A 3-1 win for Jamaica in that game would put El Salvador and Martinique tied in points, goals for, goals against and goal differential. That means the two teams would draw lots for a spot in the knockout stage.