It took longer than they wanted it to, but Panama finally punched their ticket to the Gold Cup quarterfinals with a 1-0 win over Martinique in Seattle on Thursday night in the Group A opener.
Striker Gabriel Torres coolly converted a penalty kick in the 85th minute, one minute after sub Jairo Jiménez had been brought down in the area. It gave a sluggish Panama side — who were lucky not to concede a penalty of their own in the first half — the decisive goal against stubborn 10-men Martinique side that was equally rugged and devoid of ideas in attack.
The win gives Panama six points from two games, guaranteeing their entry into the knock-out round. Martinique are still in the hunt with three points from their two outings.