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Panama tops Mexico 2-1 in Gold Cup opener

PASADENA, Calif. (AP) - Gabriel Torres scored twice to lead Panama to a 2-1 victory over Mexico in the first round of the CONCACAF Gold Cup at the Rose Bowl on Sunday.

``We have to analyze the situation and come back in better form and look to get to the next round,'' Mexico coach Jose Manuel De La Torre said. ``The main objective is to qualify for the World Cup. Of course, we also have this objective to try and get this Gold Cup title.''

Mexico, Panama, Canada and Martinique are competing in Group B. The top two teams will advance, along with two of three third-place finishers. Mexico has work to do to advance.

Mexico, an automatic qualifier in the Gold Cup tournament, lost its two prep matches prior to this tournament.

``All the teams in the world, teams like Real Madrid and FC Barcelona have these types of situations,'' De La Torre said. ``We have to keep working to get back in the best circumstances possible.''

Panama showed Mexico how much work is needed.

Torres gave Panama a 1-0 lead with a penalty kick in the seventh minute, capitalizing on a foul that was committed by Mexico's Raul Jimenez on his teammate Alberto Quintero. Mexico goalkeeper Jonathan Orozco guessed right on the penalty, but Torres' shot was just out of his reach.

Mexico tied the score during first-half stoppage time. Israel Hernandez lofted a pass to Marco Fabian, who was charging toward the box. He used his chest to settle the ball down before firing a shot past goalkeeper Jaime Penedo.

Fabian came within a couple of feet of adding his second goal before the half ended.

Torres scored the go-ahead goal in the 48th minute after taking a pass from Quintero and threading the ball through the two-foot gap that was between Orozco and the near post. Torres one-timed the shot with the side of his right foot.

``It's important to start like this,'' Panama coach Julio Dely Valdes said. ``We have said that we needed to come in here and get results. We won.''

Panama was playing without Blas Perez, who was in the Los Angeles area but playing for his Major League Soccer team, FC Dallas. He should be available for Panama's next match.

Dely Valdes has a strategy that uses a lot of his younger players on the squad. Torres made it pay off.

``Players like Gabriel Torres have done a good job,'' he said. ``We have to keep giving young players minutes and opportunities. We have to keep giving them minutes to keep doing a good job.''

Mexico was thought to be a heavy favorite among Group B teams.

Bad passes, missed shots and a strong defensive effort by Panama contributed to Mexico's downfall.

``I think that we have committed errors that have cost us a lot,'' De La Torre said. ``They have also cost us in moments where we had opportunities to score goals. We had two mistakes in the beginning of each half. We had opportunities to score and couldn't take advantage of them.''

Panama will play Martinique, a 1-0 winner over Canada on Thursday in Seattle. Mexico will play against Canada also in Seattle on Thursday.

Copyright 2018 by STATS LLC and Associated Press.
Any commercial use or distribution without the express written
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