Panama ties Qatar in thrilling CONCACAF action

Qatar and Panama traded punches in a thrilling 3-3 draw to open Group D of the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup.

The tournament guests and Los Canaleros tested wits in the first half, setting up an eventful second half.

Qatar had a good chance early after stripping the ball and turning on the counter, but Abdelkarim Hassan’s shot went just high off the top post in the 14th minute. 

Panama’s Edgar Barcenas was at the far post in the 27th minute but the cross was just too high.

Panamanian goalkeeper Luis Mejia then came up with a vital save in the 31st minute to deny Qatar’s Almoez Ali.

The Gulf nation came closer just minutes later, in the 33rd minute, off a free kick opportunity. Karim Boudiaf whipped in a dangerous ball into the box that slipped out of Mejia’s gloves, but Panamanian defender Francisco Palacios was there to clear the ball and avert any danger.

Mejia would deny Ali once more in the 35th minute as the last line of defense following the Qatari forward’s nifty skills to find separation and shoot towards goal.

The match’s opening goal arrived in the 49th minute, as Akram Afif finished off an elaborate play by the 2019 Asian Cup champions.

Panama didn’t take long to answer, capitalizing on a corner kick opportunity that culminated with Rolando Blackburn heading the ball into the net in the 51st minute.

Qatar then answered with a second goal, as Afif went from goalscorer to assist man, sending a through ball to Ali for the lead in the 53rd minute.

Blackburn found the back of the net once more in the 58th minute, smashing home a ball around the penalty area from a Barcenas service into the box.

The next two goals would come right from the penalty spot as the two nations would trade fouls in the box.

Hassan Al Haydos regained Qatar’s lead in the 63rd minute, before Eric Davis would tie the match for the third time in the 79th minute of play.

With a point a piece, Qatar prepares for Grenada, while Panama’s next test will be Honduras.