Andres Guardado converts two penalties to lead Mexico past Panama
ATLANTA -- Andres Guardado scored two goals on penalty kicks, including the tiebreaker in extra time, and six-time champion Mexico beat a short-handed and angry Panama 2-1 in the Gold Cup semifinals Wednesday night.
Panama's Roman Torres scored on a header early in the second half, and the 1-0 lead held until Guardado's penalty kick in stoppage time. The penalty kick, which followed a 10-minute delay as tempers flared, set up the extra time.
Mexico will play Jamaica in the final Sunday in Philadelphia. Jamaica upset defending champion United States 2-1 in the first semifinal and will be appearing in their first final.
Panama played at a disadvantage after forward Luis Tejada drew a red card and was ejected for his contact with Mexico's Francisco Rodriguez about 25 minutes into the match.
Tensions erupted again after the match as Panama's players charged the officials, who had to be escorted off the field by security.
Guardado, a midfielder, also scored the decisive goal on a penalty kick in Mexico's 1-0 quarterfinal win over Costa Rica.
In the 88th minute, a penalty was called on Torres for touching the ball in the penalty area. Panama players protested and fans began to throw debris onto the field for the second time in the match.
Chaos then broke out on the sideline as players from both teams argued and appeared to be on the verge of an all-out melee before slowly being separated.
Following the delay, Guardado's left-footed penalty kick found the right corner of the net for the tying goal.
Panama was denied its second straight final. It lost to the U.S. in the 2013 final after beating Mexico in the semifinals.
A win by Panama would have been an upset, but not on the level of Jamaica's shocker over the U.S. Mexico is No. 40 in the world rankings and has appeared in seven of 12 finals in the CONCACAF tournament. Panama is 62nd.
The Torres header early in the second half broke the scoreless tie. Torres was in position to intercept a corner kick from Eric Davis in front of the goal, and his header to the ground bounced past goal keeper Guillermo Ochoa.
Torres jumped in glee, his fists clenched, as Panama took their fifth straight 1-0 lead in the tournament. In each of its first four games, Panama took 1-0 leads only to allow the equalizer. This time, their defence held firm.
In the 25th minute, Tejada jumped to attempt a header when he hit Rodriguez with his arm and hand, knocking the defender to the ground. Tejada protested and had to be restrained by his teammates when the red card was pulled.
There was tension from both teams as Mexico players pushed Panama's players away from Rodriguez, who remained on the ground. Tejada was very slow to leave the field, stopping and circling back as fans hurled cups and plastic bottles in his direction. Tejada's teammate Adolfo Machado attempted to serve as an escort off the field but finally gave up when Tejada continued to linger.
Finally, Tejada departed into the tunnel, leaving Panama with the difficult task of taking on Mexico with 10 players.
Mexico's Miguel Layun cleared the debris from the field, picking up the cups and bottles, so play could resume.
Attendance was 70,511 in the Georgia Dome.