Ismael Diaz hattrick sends rampant Panama past Qatar into Gold Cup semis

July 8 – A 9-minute second-half hattrick by Panama forward Ismael Diaz, in a 4-0 win, sent Gold Cup guest Qatar home at the quarter final stage.

Qatar came into the quarter final in Arlington, Texas, after a backs-to-the-wall 1-0 win over Mexico in their final group game. In 2021 Qatar had won football fans at the Gold Cup over with a free flowing and exciting brand of football.

The game against Mexico was nothing like that. Qatar had just 24% of possession and won few friends with their petulant antics and deliberate attempts to wind-up an already volatile Mexican crowd. Against Panama they had slightly more possession – at 36% – but they rarely challenged in a game that in the end overwhelmed them.

Panama entered the match having drawn their last group game against an invigorated El Salvador team. Panama are currently Central America’s leading side, having taken over that mantle from a rebuilding Costa Rica. Under coach Thomas Christiansen they have been improving pretty much every game and now look a far more organised and composed than the team that lost to Canada and then Mexico in the Nations League final four at the beginning of June.

It was very much a battle of coaching styles. Carlos Quieroz’s pragmatism of a four-man back line with a five-man midfield sitting very deep, against Christiansen’s more expansive 3-4-3.

Christiansen came for the win and was the clear winner against Queiroz who has a long way to go if Qatar are to successfully defend their Asian Cup crown next January.

Panama opened the scoring in the 18th minute through veteran Edgar Barcenas. Receiving a cross in the box from Eric Davis, he headed down and watched as the ball bouncded over Qatari keeper Salah Zakaria.

Panama pressed and Jose Fajardo fired the ball over the bar from distance.  A shot from Bassam Al-Rawi forced a save from Orlando Mosquera in the Panama goal.

After the break came the Diaz show. He threatened to do something special in the group games but delivered it in the quarter final, the first player in the Gold Cup to score a hattrick in this round and in the fastest hattrick for the competition of all-time

Diaz’s first goal came in the 56th minute. Adalberto Carrasquilla picked a long, low pass splitting Qatar’s defence with Diaz taking a touch before finishing at the near post.

In the 63rd minute a shot from Carrasquilla was deflected and fell to Diaz, who finished into a nearly empty goal.

Two minutes later he completed his hattrick. Linking with Fajardo, the interchange ended with Diaz running into the penalty area and finishing right footed past Zakaria.

Qatar were down and out with a lot to think about. Panama now head to San Diego for a semi-final against either the US or Canada.

Contact the writer of this story at moc.l1713951926labto1713951926ofdlr1713951926owedi1713951926sni@n1713951926osloh1713951926cin.l1713951926uap1713951926

Trinidad and Tobago1024103
St Kitts and Nevis0030130
Costa Rica111764
El Salvador011342

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