Abdiel Arroyo (pictured) scored one of Panama’s three goals in a World Cup qualifying win over visiting Trinidad & Tobago on September 5, 2017, in Panama City, Panama. (Photo: AFP Services)
PANAMA CITY, Panama – Panama (2W-4D-2L, 10 points) snapped a six-game winless streak in the CONCACAF Hexagonal and jumped into one of the three direct qualifying spots for the 2018 FIFA World Cup thanks to a 3-0 win over Trinidad & Tobago (1-0-7, 3) on Tuesday at the Estadio Rommel Fernandez.
The result, combined with a 1-1 draw earlier between Honduras (2-3-3, 9) and the United States (2-3-3, 9), saw the Canaleros climb from fifth to third place with two matchdays remaining. T&T can no longer earn an automatic trip to Russia and needs to win its last two games – and hope Honduras and the U.S. lose both of theirs – to have any hope of booking a ticket.
Gabriel Torres gave the host a 1-0 lead in the 39th minute on what was a possible “goal of the year” candidate, gaining possession of the ball deep in his own end and racing all the way down the field, before slotting past goalkeeper Marvin Phillip from 18-yards out.
In the 58th minute, Panama’s went ahead 2-0, when T&T’s Carlyle Mitchell headed the ball into his own net off Alberto Quintero’s right-sided cross.
Abdiel Arroyo completed the scoreline with five minutes remaining in normal time as his right-footed shot from the top of the box appeared to be deflected by Cordell Cato’s outstretched foot before hitting the back of the net.
Panama will complete CONCACAF qualifying with games against the U.S. (October 5, away) and Costa Rica (October 10, home), while T&T will face Mexico (October 5, away) and the U.S. (October 10, home).