Rolando Blackburn headed home the eventual game winner in the 23rd minute and the Canadians could not recover as Panama won 2-0 on Tuesday in CONCACAF World Cup qualifying action.
F.C. Dallas striker Blas Perez had the other for goal for the home Panamanians who filled the national field, Estadio Rommel Fernandez in Panama City, with over 30,000 spectators.
The local fans did their part for their country by partying outside the Canadian hotel for the two nights since Stephen Hart’s team arrived in the Central American state, and the tactic seemed to have worked as the visitors looked tired from the start.
A bizarre scene saw a sizeable amount of lights in the stadium go out after six minutes, and forced El Salvadorian referee Elmer Bonilla to delay the match for approximately 14 minutes.
The situation became even worse for the visitors after the break caused by the blackout as a fifth minute collision between Dwayne De Rosario and a Panamanian defender forced Hart to bring in Tosaint Ricketts.
There was no word by the end of match on De Rosario’s condition.
Marcel de Jong got Canada’s best chance of the match when the F.C. Augsburg midfielder blasted just wide of Jaime Penedo’s post from inside the box, looking for a streaking Simeon Jackson in the 24th.
Blackburn, a forward who plays in Slovakia and who came on in the 83rd minute in Canada’s 1-0 victory on Friday, beat Kevin McKenna in the air on Armando Cooper’s in-swinging corner, and placed his header perfectly inside of Lars Hirschfeld’s right post.
It was the first goal Canada has given up in nine straight qualifiers since the first match against St. Lucia on Sept. 11, 2011.
Canada looked lethargic all game as they got away from the sharp short-pass system that Hart had instituted.
As well, the loss of Will Johnson to accumulated yellow cards seemed to have a large impact as the quality of their free kicks and corners, the responsibility of his replacement, Patrice Bernier, were poor.
Panama added to the visitors’ misery in the in the 57th minute when Blackburn blazed down the left wing, stepped around David Edgar in the corner of the box and touch-line, and squared the ball along the ground to a waiting Perez who made no mistake.
Canada had one final chance to break the clean sheet in the 86th minute when Julian de Guzman found himself in space just outside the box, and fired a low shot towards the Panama goal.
Neverthless Penedo, the member of Guatemala’s C.S.D. Municipal, had little trouble with the shot that was not struck with adequate pace.
Typical Central American gamesmanship was fully on display once Panama took the lead as the Panamanian players stayed on the ground for long periods of time after real or illusory Canadian tackles.
Canada now needs to defeat Cuba at home on Oct. 12, and get either a win or draw in the last match of the round at Honduras on Oct. 16.
Notes: Nik Ledgerwood and Pedro Pacheco replaced David Edgar and Patrice Bernier respectively in the 79th minute