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US, Panama complete semis lineup
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 21 - 06 - 2011

WASHINGTON: Panama booked its CONCACAF Gold Cup semifinal berth in dramatic style Sunday, beating El Salvador 5-3 on penalties after Luis Tejada equalized in the 90th minute.
Panama lined up another match against its Group C rival the United States, which had second-half goals from Jermaine Jones and Clint Dempsey in a 2-0 victory over Jamaica in the quarterfinals of the regional championship for North and Central America and the Caribbean.
In the second match of the day's double-header at RFK Stadium, Tejada's 90th minute strike answered the penalty converted by Rodolfo Zelaya in the 78th for El Salvador.
Tejada converted in the penalty shootout, making the clinching shot after Nelson Barahona, Luis Renteria, Anibal Godoy and Amilcar Henriquez converted. Panama goalkeeper Jaime Penedo stopped the first penalty he faced in the decider, from El Salvador's Dennis Alas.
Both Panama and El Salvador played extra time with just 10 men after Panama's Blas Perez and El Salvador's Luis Anaya were sent off after a scuffle at the end of regular time. Panama will play the US Wednesday in Houston in a re-match of Panama's 2-1 Group C victory.
The US advanced thanks to Jones' goal in the 49th minute and Dempsey's 80th-minute strike.
German-born midfielder Jones, making his ninth appearance for the USA, fired a shot from outside the area that was deflected by Jamaican defender Jermaine Taylor's outstretched leg past goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts. To celebrate his Father's Day goal, Jones offered a salute in honor of his soldier father. “It was a nice little gift,” Jones said in German, with teammate Steve Cherundolo translating. “It was a sign of respect.”
The United States gained a man advantage after Taylor was sent off in the 67th minute for a foul on Jones.
The US made the most of the advantage with Dempsey's goal. A cross from Juan Agudelo found Dempsey alone on the left side of the goal. Ricketts came out to contest, and Dempsey eluded him and slotted the ball home. Agudelo had come on in the 12th minute for Jozy Altidore, who departed with a strained left hamstring. Jamaica had reached the quarterfinals as the winner of Group B with victories over Grenada and Guatemala and Honduras.
But they had never beaten the United States and had never made it beyond the Gold Cup quarterfinals, trends they couldn't reverse Sunday.


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