Perez brace lifts Panama over Bolivia

Blas Perez (pictured) scored two goals in Panama's Copa America Centenario win over Bolivia on June 6, 2016, in Orlando, Florida, USA. (Photo: Mexsport)

ORLANDO, Florida -- Blas Perez scored two goals and Panama won in its Copa America debut, defeating Bolivia, 2-1, on Monday night in stormy conditions at Camping World Stadium.

The Vancouver Whitecaps forward netted once in each half – including the late game-winner – while Bolivia’s goal came off the left foot of Juan Carlos Arce in the 54th minute.

In a match that appeared destined to end in a draw, Perez slotted Abdiel Arroyo’s feed from the right side of the box into an open net from 10-yards out with three minutes remaining in normal time.

Just two minutes earlier, the Canaleros had another opportunity to take the lead, but an effort by Luis Tejeda sailed over the goal.

Perez’s first goal came in the 11th minute, when he slid to knock a left-sided cross by Alberto Quintero past goalkeeper Carlos Lampe from 10-yards out.

Nine minutes into the second half, Bolivia leveled as Juan Carlos Arce fired an awkward clearance by defender Harold Cummings into the back of the net from the edge of the six-yard box.

With the victory, Panama becomes just the fourth team in Copa America history to win its debut at the tournament and first since Paraguay in 1921.

Panama returns to action on Friday against Argentina in Chicago and Bolivia meets Chile in Foxborough, Massachusetts. 

  • BUDWEISER MAN OF THE MATCH: Blas Perez (Panama)