• Thursday Apr 18, 2013

    Panama to meet Mexico in U-17 final

    PANAMA CITY - Ervin Zorrilla scored the winning goal 10 minutes from full time to lift Panama to a 2-1 win over Canada in the second semifinal of the CONCACAF U-17 Championship at Estadio Rommel Fernandez Wednesday night.

    Panama will play Mexico in the final, while Canada meets Honduras in the third place match Friday. El Tri defeated Honduras, 3-1, in the other semifinal Wednesday. All four teams have qualified for the FIFA U-17 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates in October.

    Panama, which advanced to the quarterfinals of the 2011 FIFA U-17 World Cup before losing to eventual champion Mexico, had to rally from an early 1-0 deficit to beat the Canadians.

    Zorrilla received a diagonal pass from Vidal Gonzalez, took a touch and stutter step before blasting a low shot inside the far post from the edge of the 18-yard box for his team-leading third goal of the tournament.

    With FIFA president Sepp Blatter watching from the stands, Canada raced in front 1-0 five minutes into the match as Matthew Chow played a perfect cross to the back post where Marco Bustos beat Panama goalkeeper Jaime De Gracia with a diving header.

    It looked like history was possibly repeating itself as Canada defeated Panama in the 2011 semifinals on an eighth minute goal by Luca Gasparotto.

    Ismael Diaz, though, leveled in the 37th minute with a first-time volley from 12 meters for his third goal of the competition. Jomar Diaz played the ball to Yahir Marroquin, who sent a cross into the box where Diaz leapt and struck for Panama's first-ever goal against Canada in the U-17 tournament.

    Canada, which defeated Jamaica, 4-2 in the quarterfinals, nearly broke the deadlock in the 62nd minute following a defensive miscue by Panama. But under harassment from Panama captain Jesus Araya, Hanson Boakai put his attempt wide of the target from eight meters.

    Three minutes later, Marco Dominguez-Ramirez chipped a sublime ball into the box to Andrew Gordon, but he just mishit his header and put it well over the bar.

    Panama, which defeated Trinidad and Tobago, 4-2, in the quarterfinals, thought it scored the go-ahead goal in the 74th minute, but Luis Zuniga was ruled offside when he put the ball in at the back post.

    There was no stopping Zorrilla six minutes later, although the celebration was almost put on hold two minutes from full time when Canada beat Panama's offside trap. However, De Gracia slid out and kicked the ball away, eliminating the danger and securing Panama's passage into the final.

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