Panama 0 Bermuda 2
A Nahki Wells brace guided Bermuda to a historic victory over Panama to reignite their Concacaf Nations League campaign at the Rommel Fernández Stadium, yesterday.
Four days after suffering a humbling 4-1 defeat in the reverse fixture at the National Stadium, Kyle Lightbourne’s side gave a dogged performance to produce a memorable night for the small contingent of travelling fans, as Wells struck in either half.
Lightbourne made four changes from Thursday’s loss, with Roger Lee, Jaylon Harvey, Tre Ming and Justin Donawa coming into the starting line-up in place of Osagi Bascome and Lejaun Simmons, Calon Minors and Willie Clemons.
Panama, who featured in last year’s World Cup in Russia and are ranked one hundred places above Bermuda in the Fifa rankings, dominated the opening ten minutes, winning a host of corners in the process.
From one such corner, the home side created the first opportunity with the ball being headed out only as far as the edge of the area where Edgar Barcenas let fly with a first-time, right-footed effort into the arms of goalkeeper Dale Eve.
The home side continued to cause problems, with Eric Davis a particular menace down the left-hand side. After 15 minutes, the marauding left-back, skipped past Ming before delivering a dangerous deep cross towards the back post which the back-pedalling Eve did brilliantly to tip away from under his bar with Jaylon Harvey clearing from danger.
As he did on Thursday night, Edgar Barcenas found himself at the centre of much of Pananma’s attacks and after 18 minutes he created an opportunity for himself, working a yard of space on the edge of the area, before curling an effort harmlessly past the left upright. However, for their early dominance, Panama were punished for the profligacy in the 22nd minute as Bermuda snatched the lead against the run of play.
Finding himself in space, Reggie Lambe poked the ball through the static defensive line to Zeiko Lewis on the left-side of the area, who kept his composure in the face of on-rushing goalkeeper Jose Calderon, to lay the ball across to Wells, who had the simplest of tasks of tapping the ball into the empty net.
Stunned, the home side tried to respond with Carrasquilla curling an effort wide of the left-hand post, while at the other end Bermuda could have doubled their lead had it not been for the alertness of Harold Cummings.
Lambe beat Calderon to a long ball on the edge of the area, flicking the ball over the goalkeeper, but the defender was on hand to beat Lambe to the ball, clearing from danger with the goal gaping.
Just as they had dominated the opening of the encounter, Panama finished the half on top and came close to scoring on the half-hour mark.
On the right-hand side Michael Murillo drove the ball across the goalmouth, beating everyone, with Quintero agonisingly close to tapping the ball home at the back post.
Just two minutes later, Torres, who grabbed a brace in the reverse fixture, raced into the area, but under pressure from Leverock, could only fire a low driven effort at Eve, who had made himself big to save smartly with his feet.
Panama came out strongly after the interval with Torres creating the first chance of the second-half after 54 minutes. Picking the ball up on the left-hand side, the striker squirmed his way past Ming into the area but could not capitalise, curling a low right-footed effort wide.
Just two minutes later, Torres was at the centre of the action again, this time creating an opportunity for substitute Jose Luis Rodriguez, whose left-footed strike deflected off of Brangman and narrowly over Eve’s bar.
However, after weathering the early storm, Bermuda struck against the run of the play once again to double their advantage in the 61st minute. Lambe won possession 30 yards from goal, skipped past Cummings’s challenge, before brilliantly sliding the ball to Wells, who kept his composure to stroke the ball past Calderon.
That shook Panama into life who for the final 25 minutes of the encounter laid seige to Eve’s goal. First Davis curled a free kick from the edge of the area over the bar in the 65th minute, before ten minutes later
Cummings could only head harmlessly over the crossbar.
Defender Jaylon Bather was called into action in the 77th minute, brilliantly clearing the ball from infornt of his goal after Rodriguez drilled an inviting ball across the goalmouth.
With ten minutes remaining, the home side continued to pour forward with wave after wave of attack on Eve’s goal. The Bermuda goalkeeper had to be alert to deny substitute Jose Fajardo, who received the ball inside the area, and in one action turned and shot, with Eve getting down low to tip the ball wide.
As time ticked away, Eve, determined to keep his clean sheet intact, was called into action one final time with five minutes remaining, staying alert to turn Armando Cooper’s driven effort through the crowd, away to safety.
Bermuda’s dogged defensive line stayed resolute for the final moments, including five minutes of added time, to secure another milestone victory.
Bermuda: Wells, 22, 61
Panama (4-3-3): J Calderon — M Murillo, H Cummings, A Machado, E Davis — R Botello, A Carrasquilla (sub: Cooper, 62) — E Barcenas, A Quintero (sub: Rodriquez, 55), R Blackburn (sub: Fajardo, 71), G Torres. Bookings:
Bermuda (4-4-1-1): D Eve — D Brangman, J Bather, D Leverock, J Harvey (sub: Minors, 75min) — R Lee, T Ming (sub: Clemons, 59), J Donawa, Z Lewis — R Lambe — N Wells (sub: Robinson, 78). Bookings: Harvey, Lee, Wells, Clemons.