Haiti pinched a draw from the jaws of defeat, denying Panama 1-1 in their CONCACAF Gold Cup opener on Tuesday.
Alberto Quintero was on hand to power home in the 56th minute, after Haiti defender Reginal Goreux’s failed clearance of a high-bouncing ball on the edge of the area left the islanders vulnerable.
But Haiti equalised in the 86th minute, Duckens Nazon scoring just six minutes after gracing the pitch after linking up with Wilde Donald Guerrier and earning a point.
Earlier, Quintero pounced as the ball evaded Goreux’s swinging boot, and finished clinically past a stranded Johny Placide.
It was the least the Panamanians deserved at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas, as they had more than 73 per cent possession in the first half – and with that amount of ball came numerous chances.
The Haiti defence had been up to the task, however, quelling the 2013 finalists – but Quintero managed to capitalise when Hernan Gomez’s men needed it before substitute Nazon’s late run and finish earned Marc Collat’s team a draw.
Panama striker Luis Tejada was at his acrobatic best in the first half, twice connecting with an overhead scissor – although neither time did it trouble Haiti goalkeeper Johny Placide.
Tejada also had free-kick duties in the ninth minute, but he curled his left-foot effort wide of the near post after referee Henry Bejarano had produced the first yellow card of the match – cautioning Jean Alexandre for his challenge on Panama midfielder Quintero.
Haiti’s best chance of the half came moments later – James Marcelin lashing an effort from range that had 2013 Gold Cup goalkeeper of the tournament Jaime Penedo beaten, only for the ball to fly just over the crossbar.
In the 20th minute, Tejada used his chest to flick a ball up to himself – and his scissor kick was on target but Placide collected easily.
A Haiti counter-attack in the 25th minute had some danger for Panama, so much so Adolfo Machado saw yellow for bringing down Wilde Donald Guerrier.
Eight minutes from the interval, Panama produced their best sight on goal – with Blas Perez denied by a block from the Haiti defence, before Valentin Pimentel’s follow-up shot found the side-netting.
Quintero curled a powerful effort on target in the shadows of half-time, but Placide was up to the challenge with a strong parry, before Tejada tried his luck with his back to goal again – but his scissor went wide of the target.
Quintero’s goal changed the complexion of the game as Haiti went in pursuit of an equaliser, but Gomez remained positive – substituting Tejada for in-form attacker Abdiel Arroyo, who had scored in each of his past three club fixtures.
Haiti also swung two changes with 20 minutes to play – Pascal Millien and Jean-Eudes Maurice the inclusions – but it was Perez who forced a save from Placide moments later as Panama looked to seal the points in their Group A opener.
Arroyo nearly made it 2-0 with 10 minutes remaining, forcing a low parry from Placide.
Interestingly, Gomez did not use 2013 Gold Cup tournament leading scorer Gabriel Torres, the Colorado Rapids man resigned to a spot on the bench throughout – and Panam could not hold a one-goal lead without him.
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