Panama upset Mexico to face US in Gold Cup final

GOLDEN BOY::US striker Landon Donovan proved he was back on top form after a hiatus as he led his team to victory over Honduras with two goals and an assist

AP, ARLINGTON, Texas

Fri, Jul 26, 2013 - Page 19

The US advanced to the final of the CONCACAF Gold Cup with a 3-1 win over Honduras on Wednesday, with Landon Donovan scoring two goals and setting up another.

Sunday’s final will pit the US against Panama, who beat Mexico 2-1 to prevent the expected US-Mexico final.

The US struck first when Donovan found Eddie Johnson running through the middle. He dribbled the ball, then powered a shot past goalkeeper Donis Escober to put the hosts ahead in the 11th minute.

In the 27th minute, Donovan controlled a short chip off his chest and poked a shot past the ’keeper.

Nery Medina headed in a cross to pull a goal back for Honduras in the 52nd minute, but Donovan restored the two-goal lead a minute later.

In the later game, Roman Torres’ glancing header from a Gabriel Torres corner proved the winner as Panama upset Mexico.

Panama resisted prolonged Mexico pressure, which yielded four good scoring opportunities over the next 30 minutes, but no goals.

Blas Perez struck first, giving Panama a 1-0 lead in the 13th minute when he blasted a shot to the near post.

In the 26th minute, Mexico’s Marco Fabian got around a defender deep in the box and then lofted a cross to the far post where Luis Montes’ diving header sent the ball into the far upper corner for the equalizer.

US coach Jurgen Klinsmann said Donvan’s match-winning performance was “wonderful to watch” as the veteran plays himself back to the center of US team calculations after an international hiatus.

However, Klinsmann may not be on the sidelines for the final after he was ejected in the 87th minute for slamming a ball into the ground.

A CONCACAF official said the referee would file a report with CONCACAF’s disciplinary committee, which will announce a decision in the next day or two.

“It was a reaction out of frustration,” he said. “It was not meant against the referee, against anybody. It was just frustration. I apologize for that.”

Mexico were seeking a fourth straight Gold Cup final against the US and a third straight Central America title, but lost to Panama for just the second time in 15 games.