Panama advanced to the Concacaf Nations League semifinals by beating Costa Rica 3-1 on Monday, a result that also qualified them for the 2024 Copa America.
The goals of the match, played at the Rommel Fernández Stadium in Panama City, were scored by José Fajardo (21), José Luis Rodríguez (24) and Édgar Bárcenas (43, penalty) for the locals, while Francisco Calvo (52) pulled one back for the visitors.
With this result, Panama, which had a 3-0 advantage from the first leg played last Thursday in San José, advanced to the Concacaf Nations League semifinals.
In addition, the Canaleros secured one of the six Concacaf berths up for grabs at the 2024 Copa America to be held in June and July in the United States.
The four Nations League semifinalists will participate in that continental competition, along with two other teams that will have to qualify through a playoff.
The Panamanians were far superior overall against a Costa Rican side that, despite having a new coach in Argentine Gustavo Alfaro, put in a poor performance. In the early minutes, Costa Rica came out with more intensity, but Fajardo dashed any hopes of a Tico comeback in the 21st minute.
The Panamanian striker took advantage of a save by goalkeeper Kevin Chamorro following a great run down the right by Olympique de Marseille’s Michael Amir Murillo to score the opener.
The goal sunk Costa Rica, who saw Rodríguez surprise the goalkeeper three minutes later with a shot from the left side of the box.
Shortly before halftime, Bárcenas scored the third from the penalty spot. In the second half, Costa Rica improved their game with the entrance of Joel Campbell, who managed to inject some spark into the Ticos. It was precisely one of his crosses that allowed Calvo to head in easily in the 52nd minute.
From that moment on, Costa Rica created some opportunities, but Panama knew how to deflect them and launch several counterattacks, to the jubilation of fans at seeing their team having long stopped being the Central American underdog.
This will be the second time Panama plays at the Copa América after the 2016 Centennial edition.