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Final

Gold Cup: Panama rout Cuba 6-1 to advance to the semifinals; Gabriel Torres, Blas Perez each net brace

Blas Perez, Panama (July 20, 2013)

Photo Credit: 
USA TODAY Sports

FC Dallas forward Blas Pérez and strike partner Gabriel Torres each scored two goals to help Panama become the first team to advance to the semifinals of the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup after a 6-1 victory over Cuba in Atlanta's Georgia Dome on Saturday afternoon

But it was Cuba taking the shock lead in the 22nd minute on a sensational first-time finish by forward José Ciprián. Jaine Valencia lofted an exquisite ball into the box and Ciprián used a lunging volley to touch it past Panama goalkeeper Jaime Penedo and into the back of the net. 

However, the lead lasted only two minutes when American referee Mark Geiger awarded a penalty kick to Panama for a handball committed in the box by Cuba defender Renay Malblanche. Torres stepped up to convert the spot kick.

Just minutes later Torres added a second on a combination with Pérez, who knocked down a header for Torres to finish easily in front of the net and bring his tournament-leading tally to five goals, tied with the USA's Chris Wondolowski.

Whatever faint hopes Cuba had to equalize in the second half disappeared with the red card to winger Ariel Martínez, who was arguably Cuba's most dangerous player in the group stage. His studs into the lower midsection of Pérez was enough to earn him his marching orders.

Panama would proceed to run roughshod over 10-man Cuba, scoring four goals to round out the final score, which could have been even more lopsided.

Former FC Dallas left back Carlos Rodríguez capitalized in the 68th minute when a clearance fell to him in the box and he curled the ball into the far side netting to put the game out of reach at 3-1.

Pérez also victimized the undermanned Cuban side, capitalizing on the virtual freeway open to him every time he touched the ball. After missing on two clear opportunities, Pérez finally got his goal in the 78th minute on a Panama goal kick which was headed into his path. 

Substitute Jairo Jiménez got in on the action with an 85th minute tally after running onto a ball over the top and Perez then capped the scoring at 6-1 just two minutes later when he tapped home a rebound after Cuba goalkeeper Odelin Molina couldn't hold onto yet another shot on his goal. 

Panama advance to the Wednesday, July 24, semis where they will next take on Mexico at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Los Canaleros will be looking to make their first Gold Cup final since 2005.