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2019 Women's World Cup

Panama implodes late against Argentina in first leg of World Cup playoff

Photo Copyright Lewis Gettier for The Equalizer

The other feel-good story from the 2018 Concacaf Women’s Championship is unlikely to be headed to France next year. Panama lost the first leg of its intercontinental playoff series against Argentina, 4-0 on Thursday at Estadio Julio Humberto Grondona in Sarandí, just outside Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Argentina controlled the majority of the match and held a 2-0 lead heading into second-half stoppage time — a challenging but not insurmountable deficit for Panama to overcome at home in the second leg on Tuesday. Then came stoppage time. Yamila Rodriguez scored her team’s third goal following a brilliant dribbling display from captain Estefania Banini, and Eliana Stabile delivered the crushing fourth goal from the penalty spot on the final kick of the match.

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Panama finished with nine players. Katherine Castillo was sent off in stoppage time for a violent kick-out, minutes after Lineth Cedeño was sent off for a second yellow card.

It could have been worse for Panama but for some now-typical heroics from 17-year-old Panama goalkeeper Yenith Bailey, who saved Banini’s penalty kick in the opening minutes. Mariana Larroquette opened the scoring in the 21st minute, and Stabile brought the home crowd to its feet with a golazo six minutes later.

Panama is in search of its first appearance in a Women’s World Cup. Jamaica achieved that feat in October by defeating Panama in the third-place match in the Concacaf Championship.

A 4-0 aggregate deficit is a significant hole to climb out of, however. Argentina, which arrived at the playoff via a third-place finish at CONMEBOL’s Copa America, looks likely to return to the Women’s World Cup for the first time since 2007.

EXTRA: Bunny Shaw, Jamaica hope World Cup qualification will change view of women in their country

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