Qatar and Panama split the points in an epic 3-3 draw in Concacaf Gold Cup Group D play, which saw the sides combine for all six goals in a wild second half at BBVA Stadium in Houston on Tuesday evening.
Following a lengthy weather delay due to severe thunderstorms, the fireworks started with a 48th-minute goal from Qatar's Akram Afif and ended with a 79th-minute penalty kick from Panama's Eric Davis that marked his country's third equalizing goal of the match.
After a scoreless opening frame, Qatar found the opener shortly after second-half kickoff, setting off a dizzying stretch where the sides combined for four goals in 10 minutes. Afif did the honors on the first one, pouncing on a feed that was headed back across goal by teammate Pedro Miguel and lashing home a close-range finish.
Panama equalized in short order off a corner straight off the training ground, which saw Rolando Blackburn nod home a perfectly placed header off a cross from Yoel Bárcenas. The level score proved to be short-lived, as Qatar jumped right back on top just two minutes after that, when Almoez Ali deposited a shot from the right side of the box into the bottom left corner to make it 2-1, only to relinquish the lead again as Blackburn found his brace by finishing off another pinpoint cross from Bárcenas.
The chaos would only continue, as Qatar snatched the lead back once again, this time via a penalty kick that was won by Afif and converted by Hassan Al-Haydos, who made no mistake with an audacious panenka from the spot that restored their lead.
But Panama struck back with a penalty of their own that was conceded by Abdelkarim Hassan and upheld following Video Review. Davis smashed the spot-kick into the top corner, improbably leveling the contest for a third time. Both sides continued to frantically press for a winner over the final 10 minutes, but neither quite managed to find one and the 3-3 scoreline would hold as the final.
- 48' — QAT — Akram Afif
- 51' — PAN — Rolando Blackburn
- 53' — QAT — Almoez Ali
- 58' — PAN — Rolando Blackburn
- 63' — QAT — Hassan Al-Haydos (PK)
- 79' — PAN — Eric Davis (PK)
- THE BIG PICTURE: This was the match of the tournament so far, as the sides just wouldn't stop trading blows after Afif's opener in a match that was evenly played and end-to-end throughout the night, even in the scoreless first half. For Qatar, it certainly qualifies as their "Welcome to Concacaf" moment. They'll be disappointed to give away three different leads, but this was nonetheless an impressive effort for the guest nation unfamiliar with its surroundings. Panama, meanwhile, can certainly hang their hat on the moxie they showed to find all those equalizers.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: If there was one moment that probably summed up the absurdity of that second half, it was this panenka finish from the spot on Qatar's third and final goal.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: This Qatar team has some real talent, as they showed in this match, and Akram Afif was right in the middle of it in this contest as the forward scored his country's first goal and won the penalty on their last one.
- QAT: Saturday, July 17 vs. Grenada | 7:30 pm ET | FS1, TUDN, Univision | Concacaf Gold Cup Group Stage
- PAN: Saturday, July 17 vs. Honduras | 9:30 pm ET | FS1, TUDN, Univision | Concacaf Gold Cup Group Stage