It had been dubbed the biggest soccer match in Panama’s soccer history. The World Cup and European Cup Champions were coming to town. In the weeks running up to the friendly match, Panama City was covered in posters of the stars of Spain. Last night, the day had arrived.
The stadium was full and as always in Panama’s national stadium, the atmosphere was electronic. A few years ago Panamanians would have no hopes of getting avoiding complete defeat against any major team, never mind Spain. However, in recent years Panamanian has been climbing the FIFA world ranking tables by improving their play and getting results. Still, it was a long shot against the best time in the world. It was still David vs. Goliath. The gulf in class was even summed up by the Panamanian national coach Valdes, “The best thing to take on Spain would be to allow us to play with 22 players instead of 11,” he joked on Tuesday. Truly, the crowd just wanted to see some high quality soccer. And they got it.
Spain’s quality and experience proved too much Panama. They took the lead after 16 minutes with a clinical finish from Pedro. Panama did well to keep Spain quiet for 15 minutes after that but Spain scored twice before half time to make it 3.
Spain looked to be enjoying the match and the crowds had to applaud the flair and skill in their passing play. Spain scored twice more in the second half to make it 5-0.However Panama, to their credit, came out in the second half with a higher level of intensity and gave Spain a few nervous moments.
Then in the last minute Panama fans had their reward and their chance to erupt into celebration. The hosts were awarded a penalty in the closing stages when Fabregas brought down Barahona inside the penalty area. Gomez scored the penalty and sent the crowd wild. Scoring past the World and European champions is certainly a proud moment for Panama. At the final whistle the Panamanian fans were singing and dancing, as always.