Panama scores twice in two minutes to overcome El Salvador 2-1

Panama's Freddy Gondola celebrates his goal at the Rommel Fernandez stadium

PANAMA CITY, PAN – Panama is now a point off second place after they overcome El Salvador 2-1. Jairo Henriquez gave El Salvador the lead inside the first 15 seconds of the match. Los Canaleros scored twice in two minutes through Cecilio Waterman and Freddy Gondola to remain unbeaten at home.

Panama overcome El Salvador with a 2-1 win in Panama City

Team News

Panama rings in multiple changes to the team that pulled off the thrilling 3-2 comeback away at Honduras on Friday night. Anibal Godoy partners Adalberto Carrasquilla in midfield, Armando Cooper is on the bench. Omar Browne, Cesar Yanis and Jose Fajardo lineup behind Cecilio Waterman in the attack. No changes to the back four for Thomas Christiansen.

El Salvador roll out the exact same team that drew 1-1 against Jamaica. For better or worse, this has been as close to their ideal starting lineup for Hugo Perez the past month. We could see more of Christian Sorto, the 21-year-old plying his trade for Rio Grande Valley FC in the USL Championship.

Panama lineup (4-2-3-1): Luis Mejia; Eric Davis, Andres Andrade, Fidel Escobar, Michael Murillo; (C) Anibal Godoy, Adalberto Carrasquilla; Jose Fajardo, Cesar Yunis, Omar Browne; Cecilio Waterman

Los Canaleros subs: Jose Calderon, Orlando Mosquera, Azmahar Ariano, Cesar Blackman, Armando Cooper, Abdiel Ayarza, Freddy Gondola, Cristian Martinez, Jose Luis Rodríguez, Eduardo Guerrero, Rolando Blackman, Gabriel Torres

El Salvador lineup: Mario Gonzalez; Alexander Larin, Ronald Gomez, Eriq Zavaleta, Bryan Tamacas; (C) Alex Roldan, Christian Martinez, Enrico Duenas, Brayan Landaverde; Jairo Henriquez, Joaquin Rivas

La Selecta subs: Kevin Carabantes, Lizandro Claros, Miguel Lemus, Eduardo Vigil, Darwin Ceren, Melvin Cartagena, Kevin Reyes, Oscar Rodríguez, Christian Sorto, Pablo Punyed, Walmer Martinez

First Half: Jairo Henriquez gives El Salvador the lead inside the opening 15 seconds

Immediately, El Salvador takes the lead inside the opening 15 seconds. Off a quick turnover, Henríquez sped past his marker and smashed one past the keeper and tipped in off the crossbar. Landaverde earned the game’s first yellow card for a foul just outside the box. 

Panama came close to equalizing with a counterattack but the Fajardo shot went well wide of goal. Henriquez nearly doubled the lead off another counter, but effort dragged wide of the far post. Zavaleta would be subbed off due to injury, Eduardo Vigil would replace him. Panama would hit the crossbar just before the halftime whistle. Over 70% possession for Thomas Christiansen’s men as they kicked into high gear. 

A pretty eventful first half would finish with El Salvador holding a slim 1-0 lead. After the opening goal, Panama simply dominated the action. Recording over fifteen shots and creating eleven chances, Los Canaleros did everything but score. Mario Gonzalez was superb keeping Panama from leveling the scores, raising his reputation as one of the best goalkeepers in CONCACAF. Also, last-ditch heroic defending by La Selecta has seen them maintain a clean sheet thus far. All in all, this first half at the Estadio Rommel Fernandez has been one of the best in this entire CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying cycle. 

Second Half: Panama score twice in two minutes to overcome El Salvador

Freddy Gondola entered the match for Omar Browne to start the second half. Darwin Ceren came on for Landaverde. Panama equalized through Cecilio Waterman, from a powerful header in the box. Soon thereafter, Panama would take the lead. Gondola, the substitute, with Murillo who beat the offside trap, assisted Gondola and headed in a second goal in as many minutes. An incredible turnaround. 

Rolando Blackman came into the game for Waterman. Jose Fajardo would be subbed off for Jose Rodriguez. Kevin Reyes came on for El Salvador in place of Martinez. 

The game would finish 2-1, a fantastic comeback for Panama to stay within touching distance of the top two in the CONCACAF standings.

Three Takeaways from Panama vs El Salvador

Panama stayed the course to overcome El Salvador. They played some really good football after conceding so early. It was almost as if they knew they were the better team from the off, and have now avenged the early defeat against La Selecta back in early October. A tremendous comeback and boost for this team.

La Selecta has no margin for error now. Let’s comb through this, El Salvador haven’t won since beating Panama back on October 7. Since that point, four games, three defeats and one draw and one of those games was friendly. They couldn’t handle the pressure of the hosts and lost more ground in the standings, Now eight points back of the fourth place, and they still haven’t won on their travels. It’s getting late early for Hugo Perez and El Salvador.

Nobody wants to play Panama. They’ve come back for a second successive game to win, remain undefeated at home. The Estadio Rommel Fernandez is one of the toughest places to play and if you don’t believe me, just ask the USMNT how their trip went. In fourth place but within touching distance of climbing, this team is formidable and no one will want to mess with them. Thomas Christiansen is pushing all the right buttons heading into 2022.

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