Panama fights back to earn draw with Mali in Under-20 World Cup opener
Panama´ s Angel Orelien on the left seeks for the ball against Klement Kanoute of Mali in a match of Group E of the FIFA U-20 World Championship on May 25, 2019, at the Bydgoszcz Stadium in Poland (Photo courtesy of FIFA)

BYDGOSZCZ, Poland Panama fought back from a one-goal deficit to earn a 1-1 draw with Mali in its opening match of Group E at the 2019 FIFA Under-20 World Cup at the Bydgoszcz Stadium in Bydgoszcz, Poland.

It marks the fourth straight time that Panama has opened an Under-20 World Cup with a draw (2007, 2011, 2015).

It was a back and forth affair between the two teams in the first half until Mali managed to find the 1-0 breakthrough in the 39’ thanks to a strong right-footed shot from outside the area by Aboubacar Dit Boubou Konte.

The Canaleros looked to respond in the second half, only to be turned away by a sturdy Mali defense.

Still, Panama never stopped plugging away and earned a penalty in the final minutes when Guillermo Benitez was fouled in the Mali area.

Diego Valanta stepped up to take the pressure-packed spot kick and coolly converted with a left-footed finish to complete the 1-1 scoreline.