July 7 (Reuters) – Mexico’s bid to capture a third straight CONCACAF Gold Cup got off to a shaky start when they fell to a surprise 2-1 defeat by Panama in Los Angeles on Sunday.
‘El Tri’ entered the tournament with a young, domestic-based team and their lack of experience showed as Gabriel Torres scored twice for Panama, who completed a day of upsets after Martinique’s shock 1-0 win over Canada in the opening match of the 12-team tournament.
Panama striker Torres put the underdogs ahead in the seventh minute at the Rose Bowl when he converted a penalty kick awarded after team mate Alberto Quintero was brought down in the box.
Mexico recovered to take control of proceedings and deservedly levelled the contest just before halftime when Marco Fabian settled a pass and finished.
Torres, though, put Panama back in front in the 48th minute after combining with Quintero and they held on to complete the win against Mexico and heap more pressure on coach Jose Manuel “Chepo” De La Torre.
The victory put Panama top of Group A along with Martinique, who marked their first Gold Cup appearance since 2003 with a dramatic 93rd minute winner to ditch past champions Canada 1-0.
Fabrice Reuperne was the matchwinner, the 37-year-old firing a left-footed blast from outside the box that found the upper right corner of the net and gave the Caribbean islanders, who are not FIFA members, a famous win.
Martinique next play Mexico while Panama take on Canada in Seattle on Thursday. (Writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles. Editing by Patrick Johnston)