ATLANTA: Panama coach Hernan Dario Gomez felt like quitting and his counterpart Miguel Herrera was embarrassed when his Mexico side reached the CONCACAF Gold Cup final with a controversial 2-1 extra-time win on Wednesday. “I’m shocked. At one moment in the match I thought of retiring from football.
I won’t because of the group (of players) I have,” Colombian Gomez told reporters after the defeat at the Georgia Dome. “It’s the first time this has happened to me, it’s hard, I was saying to myself ‘I don’t want to carry on any longer in football because this was a vile robbery’,” added Gomez, who has coached his home county and Ecuador at World Cup tournaments. Panama, who were reduced to 10 men after 20 minutes when striker Luis Tejada was sent off for raising his arm into the face of Francisco Rodriguez, led 1-0 going into the last few minutes thanks to a Roman Torres shortly before the hour mark.
American referee Mark Geiger then awarded Mexico a penalty, hotly contested by Panama with play held up for several minutes, after Torres had fallen on the ball in the area and was adjudged to have handled when it wedged under his body.
Andres Guardado converted that penalty and another in the 105th minute to send Mexico into Sunday’s final against Jamaica, surprise 2-1 winners against hosts the United States. “I’m very sad and disillusioned because this damages football badly, you can’t settle a final in this way, it damages the tournament,” said Gomez, who vowed to stay on and steer Panama through the 2018 World Cup qualifiers. Herrera, whose side also benefited from a controversial penalty to beat Costa Rica 1-0 after extra time in their quarter-final, said his team had been lucky to be awarded the first penalty and played their worst match in the tournament. “The first (spot kick) was not a penalty but that’s not my fault, the fact is we didn’t deserve to win the match because we didn’t play at all well,” Herrera said. “That’s football and it’s not ideal. The first wasn’t a penalty but the chance fell to us and we made the most of the circumstances (but) we’re quite bothered to have won in this manner, playing badly.” Panama face outgoing champions the United States for third place in Chester, Pennsylvania tomorrow before Mexico meet Jamaica in Philadelphia a day later.—Reuters