In the surprise match up of the 2013 Gold Cup so far, Group A front runners Panama and Martinique, fresh off their upset victories in the first day of the tournament, squared off for group supremacy.
It took almost the whole match, as did Martinique's victory over Canada, but this time, it was the upstart islanders that were on the receiving end of a late defeat.
Panamanian striker Gabriel Torres powered a penalty past Martinique keeper Kevin Olimpa in the 85th minute as Panama clinched a quarterfinals berth over 10-man Martinique.
It seemed the match was heading for a 0-0 draw, but a second yellow card to Martinique defender Jacky Berdix in the 72nd minute for a poor tactical foul at midfield forced Martinique to play a man down for the duration. It took some time, but eventually Panama capitalized, as substitute Jairo Jimenez, who came on just a minute before, was clearly fouled in the area by Martinique defender Sebastien Cretinoir.
Torres stepped up and fired a low shot that a diving Olimpa (3 saves) could only get fingertips to as it went into the net. The game winner was Torres third goal of the tournament and a deserved tally for the striker having a breakout tournament. Panama keeper Jaime Penedo had one save in the shutout.
Martinique had two penalty shouts waved away by the referee during the match, but there was no doubting the foul that led to Panama's penalty kick. Martinique was out-possessed and out shot in the game, only recording one shot on target out of ten.
In the nights second game from CenturyLink Field in Seattle, Mexico rebounded from their opening match defeat to Panama to secure a 2-0 win against Canada.
Raul Jimenez fired El Tri in front just before the halftime whistle as he squared a header past Canadian keeper Milan Borjan. The Mexican striker scored his first international goal after a flick on from a corner found him unmarked in the center of the box.
Mexico's second goal however would come with some controversy, as Salvadorean referee Joel Aguilar pointed to the spot after Canada's David Edgar was judge to trip Marco Fabian in the area. Replays showed only minimal contact, but Fabian stepped up and put away the penalty to secure all three points.
Canada was unable to sustain any consistent offense, although Marcel De Jong's 90th minute free kick found the crossbar as Canada searched for away back into the match and likely, the tournament. Johnathan Orozco had three saves for Mexico in the shutout.
With the wins, Panama now sits alone in first place, undefeated with six points. Mexico leads Martinique, both with three points, on goal differential. Canada with two losses, needs a win in their final match to avoid elimination.
Group A concludes on Sunday July 14th from Sports Authority Field in Denver with Panama taking on Canada followed by Mexico and Martinique. A draw by Mexico would see them finish in second place on goal difference over Martinique.