BRADENTON, Florida – Mexico has advanced to the Final of the 2018 Concacaf Under-20 Championship thanks to a second-half comeback that saw El Tricolor rally for a 2-2 draw versus Panama on Monday.
The two teams completed Group H of the CU20 Qualification Stage with identical points, goal difference and goals scored, meaning the tiebreaker came down to Fair Play points.
By virtue of having fewer yellow cards during the Qualification Stage, Mexico will play in the CU20 Final on Wednesday.
There were chances for both teams in the first half-hour but it would be Panama that would open the scoring in the 34’ when the Mexican defense failed to clear its lines and Saed Diaz fed a pass to Ernesto Walker, who fired in a strong finish to make it 1-0 to Panama.
The Canaleros were not about to sit back and they would double their lead to 2-0 just seconds before halftime when Walker scored his second of the night with a thumping header off a corner kick.
But Mexico was undaunted and mounted a furious comeback effort in the second half, beginning with Daniel Lopez’s penalty conversion in the 53’ after a Panama handball in the area to cut the lead to 2-1.
Momentum was on El Tricolor’s side and they pulled level 2-2 in the 61’ courtesy of a curling right-footed strike from Diego Hernandez.
Both teams would trade chances in the final half-hour, including a Panama shot that hit the post, but it would finish with a sharing of the points.