• FT





  • FT






Reliant Stadium, Houston, United States

Referee: Joel Aguilar

* Local time based on your geographic location.


  • Miguel Sabah 9'

1 - 1



  • Blas Pérez 28'

Mexico 1-1 Panama: Four see red cards

HOUSTON (AP) -- Panama's soccer team huddled on the field after playing Mexico to a 1-1 tie on Thursday night, waiting for the incited fans to leave Reliant Stadium.

The Gold Cup match ended in chaos after a confrontation between Mexican coach Javier Aguirre and a Panamanian player triggered fights between fans in the stands.

Tempers flared throughout the match and boiled over in the 80th minute.

Panama's Ricardo Phillips dribbled out of bounds in front of the Mexico bench and when the linesman stopped play, Phillips shoved Aguirre.

Panama coach Gary Stempel said Aguirre hit Phillips first, trying to trip him as he ran by. Aguirre said he was just trying to stop the ball and accidentally made contact with Phillips.

"It was an imprudent act on my part," Aguirre said. "I sincerely regret it. It was a product of passion. The Panamanian team deserves an apology as well."

Players converged in the area and several got into shoving matches. Referee Joel Aguilar ejected Aguirre and whipped out a red card to give to Phillips as fans littered the field with cups of beer and other objects.

Phillips was escorted off the field by a swarm of police -- and pelted with beer cups as he ran into a tunnel -- and after about 15 wild minutes, play resumed.

A fight then broke out between two fans in the front row across the field from the benches and Houston police officers moved in to separate them. Police handcuffed at least two fans in the area.

"It was a disgrace," Stempel said. "I don't have the words."

Miguel Sabah and Blas Perez scored the goals in the first half.

Even Sabah conceded that his coach made a bad mistake.

"Obviously, he's human like the rest of us," Sabah said. "As a coach, with his experience, it doesn't make much sense. But he's human, and he has our support and we are trying hard to win."

Perez was injured on the field in the 90th minute and medical staff brought out a stretcher. As Perez was carried off the field, Mexican fans unleashed another barrage of cups and beer bottles and Perez fell off the stretcher.

Perez didn't seem as upset as his coach was about how the game ended.

"That's soccer, it's normal," Perez said. "Those things happen."

The game ended about five minutes later and the Panamanian team lingered on the field to let stadium officials drive off the fans.

"The game had to end," Stempel said. "The security and physical integrity of the players was not guaranteed. No coach wants to be a part of this debacle. Mexico has to respond for their actions, not me."

Horace Reed, the head CONCACAF official at the game, refused to comment.

Guadeloupe beat Nicaragua 2-0 in the opener of the doubleheader at Reliant Stadium. The event drew an announced crowd of 47,713, nearly all of them donned in green and cheering for Mexico.

Giovani Dos Santos took a loose ball and outran a Panama defender to set up Mexico's first goal in the 10th minute. Dos Santos dribbled into the penalty area, then passed to Sabah, who easily beat goalkeeper Jaime Penedo with a right-footed shot.

Perez tied it in the 29th minute, taking a pass from Felipe Baloy, outdueling three Mexican defenders and beating goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa with a sideways kick.

The players were mouthing off at each other from the start and Panama's Nelson Barahona earned a yellow card in the 39th minute when he collided with Sabah.

Barahona got the worst of the hit, writhing in pain as players from both teams gathered around him and jawed at one another. The referee and both linesmen rushed out to separate the teams and play continued.

In extra time just before the half, Dos Santos got tangled with Panama's Armando Gun, who was lying on the ground. The teams huddled again and exchanged words before Gun and Mexico's Miguel Luis Noriega were ejected.

Mexico kept pressure on Panama's defense for most of the second half before the ugly ending.

Mexican star forward Carlos Vela, also a member of English club Arsenal, missed the game with a lower right leg injury suffered in El Tri's 2-0 win over Nicaragua on Sunday.

The tie was a disappointing outcome for Mexico, which has won four Gold Cups, the last in 2003. El Tri is facing mounting pressure at home to return to international prominence after some embarrassing recent results. Mexico lost to the United States in the 2007 Gold Cup final and its under-23 team failed to qualify for the Beijing Olympics last summer.

Mexico has a key World Cup qualifier Aug. 12 against the United States in Mexico City.