The Panamanian men’s soccer team surprised by defeating Costa Rica 1-0 on Saturday in a friendly match in preparation for qualifying for the Qatar-2022 World Cup.
The canaleros prevailed with a goal scored by Abdiel Ayarza in injury time.
The meeting was played without an audience in the stands of the National Stadium of San José, as part of the measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19, and was the first of two friendlies, the second of which will be played next week at the same venue.
The locals started with better control of the game, with good combinations on the wings and quick passes in the midfield looking for shots from their offensive men, such as Johan Venegas, Jostin Daly and Jeykel Venegas.
Panama bet on the skill and speed of men like José Murillo and Miguel Camargo to try to create danger for goalkeeper Maynor Alvarez, debutant with the national team.
Although the Ticos had more control of the ball, the poise of the Panamanian defense, with a solid presence from Harold Cummings, prevented the hosts from scoring.
In the second half, Panama tried to reinforce its attack with the entrance of the elusive Jorman Aguilar, from San Carlos de Costa Rica.
But it was Costa Rica that reached the second half with more offensive disposition, with two clear chances to score in the first minutes, one from John Jairo Ruiz and the other from Johan Venegas.
At the end of the second half, the two teams completed the cap of six changes each, which resulted in a match with less precision and fewer actions on goal, and it seemed that it would end without a score, until Ayarza scored the agonizing goal that defined the match.
The Costa Rican coach, Rónald González, was forced to improvise after several teams from the local tournament had to isolate themselves due to COVID-19 infections.
There are currently three teams from Costa Rica with cases of the new coronavirus, including the leader Alajuelense, with 11 players affected.
Even so, González assembled the team with players from the local tournament and a single foreign player, defender Oscar Duarte, from the Spanish Levante, who acted as captain.
Christiensen used nine legionarios to make up the selection, given that the Panamanian tournament was suspended in March due to the Covid-19 pandemic and has not been resumed.