Russia dream ends for T&T with Panama loss

PANAMA CITY, CMC – Trinidad and Tobago’s bid to reach the 2018 World Cup in Russia ended in disappointment here Tuesday night when they crashed to a 3-0 defeat to Panama at the Estadio Rommel Fernandes.

The Caribbean side fell behind to Gabriel Torres’s 39th minute strike to be 1-0 down at half-time and a 58th minute own goal from Carlyle Mitchell and Abdiel Arroyo’s strike seven minutes from time, sealed the heavy loss.

For T&T, it was their seventh straight defeat in the tournament, leaving them rock bottom of the CONCACAF final round standings on three points with two games left in the campaign.

Powerhouses Mexico top the standings on 18 points and have already secured qualification to next year’s showpiece while Costa Rica lie second on 15 and Panama, third on 10.

T&T head coach Dennis Lawrence said afterwards the entire side was disappointed by the ooutcome of the campaign.

“Obviously we knew coming into the game it would have been very difficult because Panama are a well organised team,” Lawrence said.

“I thought the game was very tight until [we conceded the first two goals] and then from there was difficult because Panama showed a good drive and determination to try and get a victory which I congratulate them on.”

He added: “Of course it’s very disappointing. We knew what was at stake tonight. If we could have managed to get a positive result [it would have] still kept us in it so we are very, very disappointed.”

T&T opened strongly but had their spirits dampened six minutes from the break when a counter-attacking move ended when Torres beat goalkeeper Marvin Phillip with a clinical finish.

Four minutes following the restart, Nathan Lewis forced a save out of Jose Calderon as T&T came close an equaliser.

Once again, however, T&T ruined all their positive work when Alberto Quintero sent in a cross from the right side and defender Mitchell headed an attempted clearance into his own nets.

With virtually no way back for T&T, Panama put the final in the visitors’ coffin when Arroyo struck in the 83rd minute.

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