Mexico had to battle a tough host team and through their most lackluster performance to get a 1-0 victory over Panama and qualify to the U-17 World Cup. While Mexico was the better team and had control of the game, they were able to create very little offensively and looked poor as a collective team. Panama, though, weren't able to do much offensively and were closer to conceding a second goal than scoring their first.
Mexico only needed a victory to qualify into the World Cup but were facing a host team that needed at least a draw to stay alive. Mexico faced a tough start, especially when the ref yellow carded Carlos Robles three minutes into the game in what seemed to be a bad sign for the officially. Panama was able to impose their physicality and had more of the ball, although weren't doing much with it.
As time went on, Mexico finally started to take control of the game and had a good chance off a corner that Daniel Lopez wasted. Then in a great counter attack, Jairo Torres was able to get past the defense and opened the scoring.
The goal hurt Panama mentally, but they had their best chance when a a Panamanian player was able to get past the left back and cross it to Victor Griffith, whose shot was saved by goalkeeper Cesar Lopez.
Mexico had another good counter attack that was wasted by Jairo Torres, who then got a yellow when he pushed the Panamanian player into the goalkeeper. Still, it was a controversial play because it was the exact play a Panamanian player had done but had resulted in no card.
The second half followed a similar pattern of play. Mexico had more control of the ball but were failing to create more chances. Then off a corner, Robles hit the post in what was to be their best chance to score their second.
While at times it was all Mexico and Panama didn't get close for most of the game, another mistake, this time by Brandon Vasquez, almost allowed Panama to level when he let the ball bounce, only for a Panamanian player to get to the ball and kick it over the post.
Panama didn't have any other good chances after that, and in the final minutes of play, Panama's Jorge Mendez brought Raul Sandoval down to get his second yellow, thus a red car. Mexico then held on to book their ticket to the 2017 U-17 World Cup to be held in India.
Mexico will once again make it to both Youth World Cups this 2017. Still the 1-0 loss leaves some doubts and in terms of the 2017 U-17 CONCACAF championship, it complicates thing for a final. Only scoring one goal means that a Costa Rica draw will give the berth to the final to the Ticos. Mexico is now in the need of a victory to get to the final, which is almost assured to be against the United States. Still, it's telling that while Panama lost to Costa Rica, they looked at times to be the better team. That game finished with Panama getting two goals called back (one of which definitely looked like a blown call) and dominating the play. Today the situation was the total opposite and it would seem that Mexico will be favored against Costa Rica. Still, the important thing was getting the ticket to India, and Mexico had a tough road today but was able to accomplish their goal.