New York Red Bulls defender Roy Miller converted the winning spot kick as Costa Rica held off hosts Panama 4-2 in a penalty shootout to advance to the final of the Copa Centroamericana in a wild affair on Friday night.
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Los Ticos took the lead on a curling free-kick from Celso Borges in the 67th minute, but Panama equalized nine minutes later when Blas Pérez pulled one back for the hosts, sending the packed house of 32,000 at Estadio Rommel Fernández into a frenzy.
With the score even at 1-1 after the final whistle, the match went to penalties. Pérez and Felipe Baloy both failed to convert for Panama, setting the stage for Miller to silence the home fans. The RBNY left back made no mistake, sending Jaime Penedo the wrong way and burying his shot to put the Ticos into Sunday’s final.
In addition to Miller, a pair of former MLS defenders also started for Costa Rica: Dario Delgado (released this week by Chivas USA) and David Myrie (who was briefly with the Philadelphia Union last season).
Honduras booked the other spot in the final by blasting past El Salvador 2-0. Johnny Leverón headed in a corner kick in the 78th minute and FC Dallas winger Marvin Chavez added the capper in extra time. Chicago Fire defender Deris Umanzor and Real Salt Lake attacker Arturo Alvarez both started for El Salvador.
In the fifth-place game earlier Friday, Guatemala defeated Nicaragua 2-1. Former MLS MVP Carlos Ruiz went the full 90 for los Chapines, and MLS Cup 2005 hero Guillermo “Pando” Ramírez put in 61 minutes in the midfield. With the victory, Guatemala booked the 12th and final spot in this summer’s Gold Cup.
The top five finishers in the Copa Centroamericana make up Central America’s representatives in the CONCACAF championship; Costa Rica, Honduras, El Salvador and Panama had already qualified.
Honduras meet Costa Rica at 6 p.m. ET in Sunday's final, preceded by El Salvador vs. Panama in the third-place game at 3:30 p.m. ET. Both matches will be shown live on GolTV.
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