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Dramatic rally earns U.S. win, eliminates Panama
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Aron Johannsson (right) scored the game-winning goal for the United States in its 3-2 World Cup Qualifying victory over host Panama on October 15, 2013, at the Estadio Rommel Fernandez in Panama City. (Photo: Michael Janosz/isiphotos.com)

 

PANAMA CITY -- Panama's World Cup dream came to a stunning end on Tuesday as the United States scored twice in stoppage time to turn a one-goal deficit into a 3-2 World Cup Qualifying win at the Estadio Rommel Fernandez.

 

As a result, the Canaleros (1-5-4, 8 points) finished fifth in the CONCACAF Hexagonal table and will miss out on a spot at Brazil 2014.  The U.S. (7-1-2, 22 points) had previously confirmed its place atop the six-team group for a third straight qualifying cycle.

 

Despite a 2-1 loss at Costa Rica (5-3-2, 18 points), Mexico (2-5-3, 11 points) grabbed fourth place to set-up a meeting with New Zealand in a two-legged Intercontinental Playoff.

 

The Panamanians seemed to be on their way to a 2-1 victory before goals by Graham Zusi and Aron Johannsson dramatically and drastically changed their fortunes.

 

Two minutes into added time, Zusi equalized with a six-yard header off a left-wing cross by second-half substitute Brad Davis.

 

A minute later, Johannsson -- another second-half sub -- netted his first international goal from 21-yards out to leave seal the victory.

 

The host drew first blood in the 19th minute through Gabriel Torres. Marcos Sanchez laid off the ball to Torres at the top of the penalty area after getting on the wrong side of defender Edgar Castillo. The Colorado Rapids forward then fired home an 18-yard bullet past goalkeeper Brad Guzan.

 

The Americans replied in the 64th minute. Davis, who replaced Brad Evans eight minutes earlier, swung a corner kick into the box that Michael Orozco nudged off his body past goalkeeper Jaime Penedo to make it 1-1.

 

Four minutes later, Torres tried to restore Panama’s lead with a point-blank shot from six yards that Guzan denied.

 

Johannsson almost pulled the U.S. ahead in the 80th minute, forcing a save from Penedo after receiving a cross from Zusi.

 

A pair of second-half substitutes teamed for Panama’s go-ahead goal.  Striker Luis Tejada broke a 1-1 tie in the 83rd minute as he slotted home a rebound off a Roberto Chen right-wing cross. Guzan knocked the ball away, but an onrushing Tejada tucked it in.

 
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