Mexico captures 13th CU20 crown
MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica -- Mexico outlasted Panama 4-2 on penalty kicks to capture the 2015 CONCACAF Under-20 Championship after their final ended in a 1-1 draw on Saturday at the Montego Bay Sports Complex.
Goalkeeper Jose Gonzalez made two saves in the shootout, denying Edson Samms and Carlos Small on Panama's two final shots of the tiebreaker.
Guillermo Martinez, Alejandro Diaz, Erick Aguirre and Jose Robles converted their penalties for the Mexicans. Ismael Diaz and Fidel Escobar put their attempts away for the Panamanians.
Since both teams had already secured places in the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup, region bragging rights and a trophy were the prizes at stake.
Mexico drew first blood in the 50th minute, when Oscar Bernal failed to head a corner kick on goal. The ball went to Martinez, who beat goalkeeper Jaime de Garcia with a header of his own to the right post for a 1-0 advantage. It was the first goal Panama had conceded in the tournament, snapping a 500-minute shutout streak.
The Canaleros equalized on a penalty kick in the 72nd minute after Bernal knocked down Diaz in the penalty area. Escobar converted the ensuing penalty kick past Gonzalez for his first goal of the competition.
Both goalkeepers were sharp as they produced vital saves to keep their respective sides in the match.
The Tricolor had the first opportunity in the 19th minute, when Martinez banged a shot off the right post from the middle of the box.
Gonzalez thwarted Samms in the 55th minute, before Escobar hit the crossbar from distance two minutes later.
The Panamanians continued to test Gonzalez from distance. Luis Pereira fired a shot that hit the ground and deflected off the right post in the 70th minute.
De Gracia made a spectacular kick save on Martinez in the 78th minute and stopped an on-rushing Diaz at point-blank range two minutes into regulation stoppage time.
NOTES: Mexico won its third straight CONCACAF Under-20 Championship title and a record-extending 13th overall.