GOLD CUP: Historic double for Danns but Panama prevail

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CONCACAF GOLD CUP 2019

MATCH 15, FIRST ENERGY STADIUM, CLEVELAND, OHIO

GUYANA 2 (Neil Danns 33, 90+3)

PANAMA 4 (Abdiel Arroyo 16, Terrence Vancooten 40, Eric Davis 51, Gabriel Torres 86)

By Colin Benjamin in Cleveland

Guyana’s sojourn in their debut CONCACAF Gold Cup continued in Cleveland, Ohio, this evening after they conceded four goals against renowned Central American opponents Panama and some controversial refereeing.

The result means Guyana’s final group game against neighbours Trinidad and Tobago next Wednesday in Kansas City will be a battle to avoid finishing bottom of Group D.

Proceedings began very encouragingly for Guyana in the first half. Firstly, in the fifth minute, young English based left-back Liam Gordon sent in a delightful cross into the box and center-back back Matthew Briggs almost scored.

Canada-based Forward Emery Welshman then had two great chances to take the lead in the space of five minutes. Netherlands-based Terel Ondaan (who didn’t play in opener versus the United States) on the left-flank and Welshman exchanged solid passes, before Welshman’s strong shot was parried by Panama keeper Lis Meija.

Guyana’s starting line-up

Next in the 14th minute, right back Jordan Dover (Pittsburg Riverhounds of the United Soccer League) made a marauding flank run and his cross was cleared at the last minute by Panama’s defense with Welshman free on goal.

However, totally against run of play Panama would score the opening goal. Indecision between Briggs and keeper Akel Clarke on who to clear the ball resulted in Panama’s Abdiel Arroyo pouncing and scoring the opening goal.

Guyana kept pressing and their good play brought rewards. Ondaan was brought down in the box after some clever inter-play with Dover and a penalty was awarded.

Guyana’s Emery Welshman (#10) controls the run of play

Once again Neil Danns stepped up and scored the Golden Jaguars first goal in CONCACAF Gold Cup history. This was the second major penalty goal for the 36-year old Danns this year following his strike against Belize at the CONCACAF Nations League game this March at the National Track and Field Centre, Leonora.

This lead was cruelly wiped on the stroke of half-time when Vancooten, who was having an excellent game, hit his attempted clearance haplessly passed a stranded Clarke.

At the interval Guyana had a superior 52% possession advantage to Panama’s 48% which was testament to how well they were playing despite the self-inflicted defensive errors which costed them goals.

The 51st minute of this encounter is when the aforementioned controversy hit as Panama took the lead off an extremely contentions penalty kick.

Despite replays suggesting otherwise, the referee made the call that Clarke’s feet were over white goal line when he made the initial save and ordered it to be retaken.

Part of the action between Guyana (yellow) and Panama (red)

In world football this was the second notable referee decision on the goal-keepers foot position for penalties in the past week. The other instance was in France for the 2019 Women’s World Cup match between Argentina and Scotland.

Although Coach Michael Johnson made a subtle 4-4-2 tactical change for Guyana after he brought on his three substitutes in order to be more offensive, it was obvious the frustration of that penalty broke Guyana’s spirit. This was evident when Panama scored their fourth goal, taking advantage of Guyana’s defensive shape being totally out of position.

Panama, as team with FIFA World Cup experience, then did a solid job off killing the tempo of the game for the final 30 minutes despite the Jaguars best efforts to secure their passage to the knockout stage.

Guyana XI (4-3-3): Akel Clarke; Jordan Dover, Terrence Vancooten, Matthew Briggs; Elliot Bonds (Stephen Duke-McKenna 55), Neil Danns, Sam Cox (Captain), Terell Ondaan (Keanu Marsh-Brown 67), Callum Harriot (Anthony Jeffrey 67), Emery Welshman.

Panama XI: Luis Meija, Harold Cummings, Fidel Escobar, Roman Torres, Edgar Barcenas, Armando Cooper, Eric Davis, Rolando Blackburn, Abdiel Arroyo, Michael Murillo.

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