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Thursday, April 24 2014 @ 04:41 PM EDT

Panama claims third at CONCACAF Futsal championship - Qualifies For World Cup

Sports Section GUATEMALA CITY - Miguel Lasso scored his third of the game and tournament-leading ninth goal midway through the first extra-time period and Panama beat Mexico 6-4 Sunday in the third-place consolation match at the CONCACAF Futsal Championship. The result was the highest finish at the futsal finals for Panama, which was fourth in 2008. It was the third time in four tries Mexico has fallen in the third-place match. It also failed in 2000 and 2004 after finishing third in the inaugural 1996 tournament.

Lasso then gave "Los Canaleros" the lead for the last time 2:45 into extra time when Adrian Gonzalez gave the ball away on a back pass, and the Panamanian forward took a touch before driving it from near the second penalty spot. Claudio Goodridge then added the insurance with 31 seconds remaining in the second extra period, get a ball at midcourt with Mexican keeper Alonso Saavedra near the midfield circle to support El Tri's late offensive push. With Saavedra out of position, Goodridge rolled a ball from his own half off the right post for his second of the match.

Panama took the lead with two goals inside the first 2:09. Lasso settled Oscar Hinks' cross-court pass on the left, took a touch to get inside Gonzalez and put a right-footed drive into the far-side netting after only 58 seconds. Goodridge doubled the advantage 67 seconds later. He dribbled in from his own half and took a speculative shot that was blocked by Mexican defender Angel Rodriguez. But the ball caromed back to Goodridge, who took another touch before hitting a right-footed shot from just beyond the second penalty spot that bounced in off the underside of the cross bar.

Mexico was on the defensive for much of the rest of the half, but pulled within a goal with 1:07 remaining when Carlos Ramirez settled Miguel Limon's cross-court pass on the left side of the penalty area, chipped the ball over the head of goalkeeper Jaime Lodono and finished with a nod of the head. El Tri was more aggressive to start the second half and equalized 5:15 in when Rodriguez finished a run down the right side with a sharp drive from the edge of the area that got between Panamanian substitute keeper Jose Victoria and the near post.

But Panama reclaimed the lead in the 29th minute, capitalizing on a man advantage after Limon was ejected less than 60 seconds earlier for a two-leg slide tackle that brought down Panama's Edgar Rivas. After a period of sustained possession, Carlos Perez's drive from outside the area deflected off Gonzalez's left leg and beat Saavedra high to his left. Panama doubled its advantage a minute later when a diagonally running Lasso settled a ball from Rivas, took a quick shot that Saavedra was able to block, but knocked the rebound into an open net with the Mexican keeper sprawled on the floor.

After Lodono denied Ramirez on a penalty with 4:56 remaining, Mexico pulled within 4-3 with just over three minutes left with Morgan Plata's second goal of the tournament and equalized when Ramirez volleyed Plata's corner kick with just over a minute remaining.

Editor's Comment: Futsal is a variant of association football that is played on a smaller pitch and mainly played indoors. Its name is a portmanteau of the Portuguese futebol de salão and the Spanish fútbol de salón (colloquially fútbol sala), which can be translated as "hall football" or "indoor football". During the sport's second world championships held in Madrid in 1985, the name fútbol Sala was used. Since then, all other names have been officially and internationally changed to futsal. Futsal is played between two teams each with five players, one of whom is the goalkeeper. Unlimited substitutions are permitted. Unlike some other forms of indoor football, the game is played on a hard court surface delimited by lines; walls or boards are not used. Futsal is also played with a smaller ball with less bounce than a regular football. The surface, ball and rules create an emphasis on improvisation, creativity and technique as well as ball control and passing in small spaces.

Eight teams participated in this CONCACAF Futsal qualification tournament in Guatemala. As a result of this tournament, four teams have qualified and will participate in the 2012 FIFA Futsal World Cup, to be played from 1 - 18 November in Thailand. Guatemala, Panama, Costa Rica and Mexico all advanced. The United States, Canada, Cuba, and Saint Kitts & Nevis were eliminated. So good news - Panama took third place overall in this tournament, and will be representing the country in the FIFA Futsal World Cup later this year.

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