An experimental Mexico side was forced to work hard for a 1-0 victory against a defensively organized Panama in Toluca.
Mexico entered the game on the back of a 3-2 extra-time victory over the United States in a 2017 Confederations Cup playoff, while its opponent arrived winless in normal time in its previous 12 fixtures. Real Sociedad attacker Carlos Vela’s goal in first-half stoppage time was the difference in the international friendly Tuesday, with neither side capable of creating obvious openings.
Panama goalkeeper Jaime Penedo had an early scare after missing Adolfo Machado’s backpass, forcing him to scramble back and clear under pressure from Raul Jimenez. But the visitors soon produced the first real chance of the game as Armando Cooper’s low drive was touched around the post with a one-handed stop by Alfredo Talavera.
Mexico appeared the more threatening in the early stages, with Jimenez’s energetic running causing panic among the Panama back five. After collecting a deep pass towards the end line line, the Benfica striker did well to turn Luis Henriquez â but Jonathon dos Santos was unable to reach his raking cross.
Panama began to settle into the contest midway through the first half, with the tight, narrow pitch in Toluca favoring Hernan Gomez’s side. Predominantly defensive minded, Panama — 65th in the FIFA world rankings — enjoyed a confidence-building period of possession before the interval.