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2013 Gold Cup - Martinique, Panama Start Group A With Upset Victories

In a stunning start to the 2013 Gold Cup, tiny Martinique stuns Canada in stoppage time and Panama downed two-time defending champions Mexico on Day one of Gold Cup action.

Stephen Dunn

Eleven years ago in the 2002 Gold Cup quarterfinals, Fabrice Reuperne missed a penalty kick over the bar in a shootout that would have sent tiny Martinique through to the semis. The opponent that day was Canada.

Reuperne, now 37, came on as a substitute in the 79th minute and finally got his chance at redemption yesterday, with that same Canadian team on the opposite side of the field. And this time he didn't miss.

Reuperne's world class, laser volley deep into stoppage time off a poorly cleared corner kick beat the keeper to the top corner and gave Martinique just their second ever victory in the Gold Cup.

For Canada, they now face a staggering uphill climb in the tournament, likely needing at least four points from their remaining two games against Mexico and Panama. After their performance tonight, that seems highly unlikely.

Canada owned almost sixty percent of the possession and completed eight percent of their passes, yet only took eight shots on goal, with three on target. In contrast, Martinique took 27 shots, with eight on target though most were long range efforts or blocked, it was the tiny island nation that stayed aggressive and searched for the winner.

Canada didn't complete many passes in the middle of the attacking third and because of that failed to generate any serious scoring chances. Martinique on the other hand had a more balanced attack and seemed content to put shots on goal from anywhere. Their persistence was finally rewarded with a winner, as the better side on the day claimed all three points.

In the second game of the day, Panama held off a furious rally against Mexico for the day's second upset. A brace by Gabriel Torres, a first half penalty to open the scoring in the 7th minute and the game winner right after the start of the second half in the 48th minute sandwiched by a Marco Fabian equalizer for Mexico in first half stoppage time.

Panama certainly did not seem overwhelmed during the match, and despite giving up a goal right before halftime, they kept the attack up and Torres finished from close range to the near post to reestablish Panama's lead.

As Mexico searched for the equalizer late in the game, Panama keeper Jaime Penedo was able to claw a header in the 84th minute off the head of Mexico's Juan Carlos Valenzuela. It was one of Penedo's three saves on the night.

For Mexico, it continues an already frustrating 2013 campaign. El Tri sit in third place in The Hex on eight points with one win and five draws through six games and Mexico was bounced from the Confederations Cup after losses to Italy and Brazil. With not a lot of international experience on the Gold Cup roster, Mexico is not fielding the same team that made them a regional powerhouse and two-time defending Gold Cup champions.

The 2013 Gold Cup continues tomorrow with Group B action from Red Bull Arena in Harrison, NJ. El Salvador squares off Trinidad and Tobago at 6:30pm with Haiti and Honduras the nightcap at 9pm. Group A resumes on Thursday July 11 from Century Link Field in Seattle as surprising group leaders Panama and Martinique square off and Mexico and Canada look to keep their hopes alive in the second game.