SEATTLE – Gabriel Torres converted a penalty kick in the 85th minute to boost Panama to a 1-0 Group A victory over ten-man Martinique in the CONCACAF Gold Cup at CenturyLink Field on Thursday night.
It was Torres’ third goal of the tournament and it is Panama’s second win in two games, giving La Marea Roja six points and the uncontested group lead.
The Canaleros got on the scoreboard after Martinique’s Sebastien Cretinoir fouled Jairo Jimenez in the box, prompting referee Armando Castro to point to the penalty spot.
Torres sent his 83rd minute penalty kick to the left of a diving Martinique goalkeeper, Kevin Olimpa, who tried slapping the ball away with his right hand.
The goal gave the match some life after both teams ate up sizeable segments of time trying to establish a rhythm, moving the ball through the midfield, but not penetrating into the opponent’s end.
The only shot on target during the half came in the 16th minute, when Torres rolled a right-footer straight into Olimpa's hands.
The match picked up a bit of steam early in the second half as the sides pushed a little further up the field.
Panama came close to scoring 10 minutes after the interval. Torres sifted through the backline into the area, where he took a Cecilio Waterman feed that came on a combination with Gabriel Gomez. The Panamanians also thought they had netted in the dying moments of the match, but striker Blas Perez, making his 2013 Gold Cup debut as a second half substitute, was whistled offside.
As the game opened up, it became more physical, leading to some bookings.
Martinique finished with 10 men following Jacky Berdix’s dismissal for accumulating two cautions, his second for fouling Torres as the 24-year-old forward was on his way to begin a counterattack.
With one player less on the field, some space opened up for Panama, which began to force the issue even further.
Group A play ends with a doubleheader on Sunday in Denver. Panama will face Canada, while Martinique meets Mexico.
NOTES: Panama won two-consecutive Gold Cup games for the first time…Gabriel Torres joins Luis Tejada as the only Panamanian players to score three-consecutive Gold Cup goals for their team.