Bermuda 1 Panama 4
Bermuda endured a “baptism of fire” after suffering a heavy defeat to Panama on their Concacaf Nations League debut at the National Stadium last night.
The home side played well in spurts but ultimately paid the price for a poor defensive display which the visiting side ruthlessly exploited.
Striker Gabriel Torres put Panama out front before Reggie Lambe levelled for Bermuda.
Panama regained the lead moments later through a goal by Rolando Blackburn to take a 2-1 advantage into the break.
Torres grabbed a second after the restart before being replaced by substitute Adalberto Carrasquilla who slotted in Panama’s fourth to put the game further beyond Bermuda’s reach.
Bermuda’s defeat was compounded by the loss of forward Lejuan Simmons who was helped off the pitch after colliding with goalkeeper José Calderon and is now doubtful for their match away to the same opposition on Sunday.
Danté Leverock, the Bermuda captain, made no excuses for his team’s poor display.
“I don’t think we played to our potential and at this level it’s all about experience and game management,” Leverock said. “It’s a baptism of fire. Panama made the World Cup for a reason.
“But no excuses; I don’t think we were good enough on both sides of the ball. Defensively you can never concede four goals and expect to win a game.
“Defensively we were sloppy with a lot of turnovers. We have very good ball players and we didn’t retain the ball well.
“It’s tough. We’re playing professionals who have been playing top level for years, but this is the level we want to play at and as a unit we just weren’t together.
“It hurts and the boys are obviously disappointed, but we have to learn from this.”
Leverock believes the goal Blackburn scored to put Panama back in front before the interval was a crucial turning point in the match.
“It could have been different if we hadn’t conceded that goal just before the half,” he said. “You can’t do that at this level.
“This is the level we want to be at so we have to learn quickly and raise our game on Sunday against the same team.”
Panama mounted waves of attacks in search of the breakthrough with forwards Alberto Quintero and Edgar Barcenas both having shots deflected after getting good looks at Dale Eve’s goal.
Bermuda weathered the early storm and with midfielders Osagi Bascome and Willie Clemons winning tackles and linking play nicely to create space in the last third for their forwards to run into. The home side’s first real chance came as Simmons’s inviting low cross was frantically cleared away in the box.
Forward Nahki Wells then fired just wide on the turn while Leverock scuffed Bascome’s corner kick in the area.
The game opened up with Panama midfielder Rolando Botello firing over on a quick break while at the other end Bermuda had a confident appeal for a penalty waved off after Wells was brought down in the box under a challenge. The visiting side finally broke through on their next foray forward with Torres slotting inside of the far bottom corner.
Bermuda were again exposed at the back but were left off the hook this time as Blackburn’s curling struck the post.
It was game on again when Bermuda hit back against the run of play. Lambe’s initial effort came back off the post to beat Calderon from close range via the shin of Harold Cummings.
However, Bermuda dropped their guard in the euphoria of their goal and Panama capitalised with Blackburn tapping in from close range. The home side made a promising start to the second half with Calderon saving efforts from Lambe and Simmons, but Panama remained a constant threat with their slick passing and off the ball running.
Panama were gifted their next two goals as Torres pounced on Lambe’s headed back-pass before Carrasquilla rolled the ball into an empty net after Eve was left stranded upfield after going forward for a free kick.
Bermuda: Cummings og 43
Panama: Torres 31, 65
Blackburn 44, Carrasquilla 92
Bermuda (4-2-3-1): D Eve – C Minors (sub: J Harvey), J Bather, D Leverock, D Brangman — O Bascome, W Clemons (sub: J Donawa), R Lambe, Z Lewis, L Simmons (sub: M Butterfield) – N Wells. Substitutes not used:
D Bell, Q Hunt, C Basden, R Lee, D Usher, C Robinson,T Ming, L Evans, M Warren
Panama (4-4-2):J Calderon — E Davis,H Cummings, A Machado, M Murillo – R Botello, E Barcenas (sub: A Cooper), A Quintero, F Escobar – G Torres (sub: A Carrasquilla), R Blackburn (sub: J Fajardo). Substitutes not used:
J Guerra, F Palacios, J Vargas, J Rodriguez, L Ovalle, A Stephens, A Ayarza, O Browne.
Referee: R Zuniga (Honduras)