Panama emerges victorious to gain advantage in QFs

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By Marco Echevarria

Panama has achieved a significant victory in the CNL quarterfinals, defeating Costa Rica with a convincing 3-0 score in the first leg at Estadio Saprissa in San Jose, Costa Rica. This win follows Panama’s previous triumph over the Ticos in the 2022-23 CNL group stage, where they also emerged victorious in Costa Rica, albeit with a narrower 1-0 margin.

The match commenced favorably for Panama, with Michael Murillo delivering a stunning free-kick goal into the top right corner in the 4th minute, putting the Canaleros ahead early in the game. Panama maintained their aggressive play and doubled their lead in the 29th minute, thanks to Jose Fajardo, who capitalized on a defensive error by Costa Rica to score with a powerful right-footed shot.

Costa Rica attempted to rally back, with Jimmy Marin narrowly missing a goal in the 33rd minute, his shot just grazing the post. In the second half, despite increased pressure from Costa Rica, Panama effectively utilized counterattacks. One such break in the 60th minute led to Adalberto Carrasquilla setting up Cecilio Waterman, who extended Panama’s lead to 3-0.

With a comfortable three-goal cushion, Panama controlled the remainder of the match, effectively containing Costa Rica’s offensive efforts. This strategic play allowed Panama to calmly secure a crucial away victory, placing them in an advantageous position in the quarterfinals.