Panama defeated Costa Rica 2-0 on Thursday in the first matchday of the CONCACAF Nations League, an unfortunate result for the Ticos in their penultimate match before facing New Zealand in the playoff for Qatar-2022.
The goals in the match, played at the Rommel Fernandez Stadium in Panama City, were scored by Ismael Diaz (52) and Cecilio Waterman (76), in a duel where Costa Rica collapsed in the second half.
In the first half, Los Ticos showed more attitude against an opponent that looked listless. However, in the second half everything changed and the Canaleros had more chances against a Costa Rican team incapable of showing any fight.
By Panama winning it now has three points in Group B of League A of the Nations League, while Costa Rica and Martinique remain with zero points.
Costa Rica’s technical director, the Colombian Luis Fernando Suarez, saw the match as an opportunity to see the players ahead of the crucial match on the 14th in Doha, for a ticket to Qatar 2022.
“Every match gives you a message and you have to evaluate everything. It was important to look at players, look at individuals and then draw conclusions to make the best decision for the match against New Zealand,” Suarez said after the defeat.
The bicolor will now host Martinique on the 5th before leaving for Qatar. Suarez presented a renewed team with Anthony Contreras very active in attack and with constant surges by Ricardo Blanco on the right flank.
In the first half, Juan Carlos Vargas could have scored for the visitors with a shot against the crossbar. In another move Contreras spectacularly got away from his marker, but his assist failed to connect with Brandon Aguilera and Blanco’s subsequent shot crashed into the defenders.
Eric Davis also had a chance to score a goal for Panama, but the ball hit the post.
In the second half, Panama came out with a different attitude and in the 52nd minute Diaz scored a goal. After the goal, Suarez made several changes, but they did not make much of a difference.
In the midst of the Panamanian maelstrom, Waterman took advantage of a scramble in the area after a corner kick in the 76th minute to score the second, against an opponent who showed no bite or sense of urgency at this point of the game.