Costa Rica has never won the Gold Cup since its founding in 1991. To win any international tournament, you need a few bounces to go your way.
One big bounce sent Costa Rica past Panama 1-0 on Wednesday and into the Gold Cup semifinals, an own goal by Panamanian defender Anibal Godoy in the 77th minute.
But there was little Calderon could do on the goal. Godoy kickstarted his team’s demise by fouling Bryan Ruiz on the left wing and earning a yellow card for his troubles. Then David Guzman swung his free kick into the box, and Godoy inadvertently directed an inch-perfect header on his own net:
— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) July 20, 2017
The brutal own goal allowed Costa Rica to drop back and shut down ensuing attacks, although Panama nearly equalized with a couple of chances late.
The Ticos have been playing as close to an A-team as any of the contenders all tournament, at least until the United States opted to bring in several stars after the group stages. Costa Rica will likely face the Americans in Saturday’s semifinal in Arlington, Texas.
Panama, meanwhile, was looking to build momentum going into World Cup qualifying this fall, where it currently sits fourth in the Hex. That would mean a playoff against the fifth-place team from Asia in November for the right to go to Russia. Los Canaleros have to be careful, however, with trips to both the United States and Mexico looming in qualifying.
They won’t get a chance to face those teams in the Gold Cup knockout stages. For at least one day, fortune wasn’t on the side of Godoy or Panama.