WASHINGTON – Luis Tejada scored in the 90th minute to tie the game at 1 and then had the victory-clinching tiebreaker penalty kick to lead Panama to a victory against El Salvador in the CONCACAF Gold Cup quarterfinals on Sunday.
After the teams remained tied at 1 after overtime, Tejada, Amilcar Henriquez, Anibal Godoy, Luis Renteria and Nelson Barahona converted to give Panama a 5-3 edge in the penalty kick shootout.
"If things don't go your way in terms of soccer, you have to look for other ways to reach your goals," Panama coach Julio Dely Valdes said. "We have gotten a result in a way we're not used to. I think Panama never stopped fighting, and that's how we reached the goal, which is the most important thing going forward."
Panama will play the United States on Wednesday in Houston, a rematch of Panama's 2-1 Group C win.
"Against the U.S., it isn't going to be an easy game at all," Dely Valdes said. "It will be different, and it will be very complicated for us."
Panama goalkeeper Jaime Penedo stopped the first penalty he faced in the tiebreaker from El Salvador's Dennis Alas. El Salvador was playing its first quarterfinal since 2003 and aiming for its first semifinal berth.
"It's a very difficult game to digest," El Salvador coach Ruben Israel said. "We had very good chances in every game and I feel like we could have made it even further."
Both coaches were unhappy with some of the game's officiating decisions.
El Salvador converted one of its two penalty kicks in regulation. Rodolfo Zelaya scored in the 78th minute to give El Salvador a 1-0 lead after having his attempt blocked in the first half.
Zelaya drew the second penalty when he took a pass on the move just inside the top of the penalty box and Panama's Roman Torres tripped him. Penedo guessed Zelaya would send the ball right, and as Penedo dove, Zelaya kick to the upper left sailed into the net.
The sold-out crowd of 45,423 — mostly wearing El Salvador's blue — erupted after the score.
"If anybody knows a little bit about soccer, they know that the ref was against us," Dely Valdes said. "But we're not going to talk about the refs. I didn't like the referee one bit."
Panama tied the game at 1-1 in the final minute of regulation on a wild goal by Tejada.
Blas Perez sent a crossing pass from deep on the right side to the left post, where Tejada knocked it toward the goal through traffic. El Salvador goalkeeper Miguel Montes appeared to the make the save, but he was in the net and it was determined the ball had crossed the goal line. There was a long delay before the goal was added to the scoreboard, and it was briefly taken off before finally staying up for good.
"It's an elimination that has been conditioned by human error made by the referees, which is OK because they are human and they can make mistakes," Israel said.
The teams exchanged words as they left the field at the end of regulation. Perez of Panama received a red card, and El Salvador's Luis Anaya received his second yellow card, leaving both clubs a man down for the 30-minute overtime.
"When we saw the doubtful goal, and after the 90th minute, we didn't let anything get us down," Zelaya said. "We still kept going forward."
El Salvador's first-half penalty kick was awarded when Zelaya sent a high-arcing pass into the penalty box for Rudis Corrales, who was bumped by Panama's Luis Henriquez as they fought for position.
Zelaya sent his penalty kick to the lower left corner, and Penedo dove to his right for the save.
Panama had the best chances in the extra time on a pair of back-to-back corner kicks. On the first, Montes stopped a point-blank header by Felipe Baloy. On the following kick, El Salvador defender Osael Romero blocked a shot to preserve the tie.