It wasn’t pretty, but Costa Rica advanced to the Gold Cup semifinals with a 1-0 victory over Panama. It was the MLS-to-MLS connection for the goal, as David Guzman served the free-kick that was headed in by Anibal Godoy for an own goal in the 77th minute. Both teams had good shots on net, but in the end neither could breakdown the opponent. Much of the battling went on in the midfield 3rd, with both teams trying to penetrate into the attacking 3rd, but turning over possession instead.
At the half there wasn’t much action. Both teams took a defensive approach, opting to win battles in the midfield and defensive 3rd’s instead of committing men forward.
Costa Rica began to take control in the second half, with Bryan Ruiz coming alive. In just the first 10 minutes the midfielder registered 3 shots, each more dangerous than the last, culminating with a firs-time shot inside the Panama box.
Panama picked up the pace after the flurry of Costa Rican chances, and nearly scored if not for Patrick Pemberton in the 73rd minute. Gabriel Torres popped up in the box, taking a layoff from Edgar Barcenas and forced Pemberton to full stretch. Just seconds later Panama had another shot at goal, only this time the save was easy for Pemberton from the 20 yard strike. The shot was hit hard by substitute Abdiel Arroyo but Pemberton just had to smother it to keep possession.
Costa Rica took the lead in the 77th minute after an own goal from Anibal Godoy, who committed the foul just seconds earlier. The free-kick from 50 yards out was delivered well by David Guzman, but Godoy had a free header, with no Costa Rican players to contest. His glancing header found the corner brilliantly, though unfortunately. For one of Panama’s best players and leaders, he has to step up here and clear the ball away. He stepped up just a tad too far, thinking he would have to win the ball outright, but instead was wide open, making it look like he made a bigger error than in reality.
Patrick Pemberton came up with a big punch to keep Costa Rica with the lead. In the process Gabriel Torres clobbered the big keeper. Had Pemberton not punched, Torres would have had a clear header inside the six.
Panama pushed the limit in stoppage time, coming close from a free kick in the 94th minute. The ball swerved toward goal, but no one was able to connect, as the ball was flicked out for a corner. The game ended shortly after, heartbreak for Panama, losing from an own goal. Costa Rica may not have deserved the result, but in classic Costa Rican fashion the Central American country worked hard, defended well and grinded out a victory.