PANAMA CITY, Panama – Canada's quest for the World Cup has gotten a whole lot more difficult, as Panama dominated from start to finish and picked up a 2-0 win over their visitors in a third-round World Cup qualifying match at the Estadio Rommel Fernández on Tuesday night.
Rolando Blackburn scored in the first half and FC Dallas striker Blas Pérez added the insurance marker 15 minutes into the second half as Panama regained control of Group C with a victory that gives them nine points from four games. Canada remain on seven points after beating Panama in Toronto last Friday.
Canada knew Panama were going to come at them and that’s exactly what the hosts did. Los Canaleros dominated everything in the early going before the game was halted for almost 15 minutes following a power failure with some lights in the stadium’s north end that cast one half of the pitch into darkness.
When the power came back on, Canada were without D.C. United’s Dwayne De Rosario, who was injured in an earlier tackle. He received treatment from Canada’s medial staff when the lights were out but had to admit he couldn’t continue and was replaced by Tosaint Ricketts.
After Marcel de Jong saw a shot go wide in the 24th minute, Panama quickly responded and Canadian goalkeeper Lars Hirschfeld was forced to make a diving save off the boot of Alberto Quintero.
Panama finally got their breakthrough in the 38th minute when Blackburn found space thanks some suspect Canadian marking and headed in Panama’s opening goal from a corner, eliciting jubilation from the home supporters.
Canada tested the Panamanian goal a little bit early by winning a pair of corner kicks, but they never led to anything. Pérez doubled the margin after beating a number of Canadian defenders to bang home a Quintero cross from the left side.