USMNT World Cup Appeal Talk Surfaces After Controversial Panama Goal

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Four years ago, Graham Zusi's famous goal in stoppage time against Panama eliminated Los Canaleros from the World Cup and extended a lifeline to Mexico, who won an intercontinenal playoff to qualify for the final tournament in Brazil.

USA's shock 2-1 defeat to Trinidad and Tobago, coupled with Panama's 88th minute victor from Roman Torres to beat Costa Rica, meant the team from Central America finished third in the North/Central American qualifying and have booked their place in Russian Federation.

As the ball came flying into the box from a corner, it came off the back side of Panamanian player Gabriel Torres and hit the inside of the post.

Panama's success also strengthened the hand of those who argue that the expansion of the World Cup to 48 teams is not necessary to allow more smaller countries to take part.

But it worked. Putting the ball into orbit via row Z helped Panama secure a 2-1 win thanks to goals from Johan Venegas and Gabriel Torres to earn a place at Russian Federation 2018.

Their president, Juan Carlos Varela, got very excited after their late heroics and chose to the mark the national team's achievement by immediately arranging for a national holiday to be held today.

Referee, Walter Lopez of Guatemala, decided that the ball had crossed the line and gave the goal. They'd cancelled out Costa Rica's opener with a highly controversial equaliser early in the second half, but, with the U.S. heading to a surprise defeat to Trinidad and Tobago, were set for a fifth-place finish.

Round 5 - Honduras 0 Panama 1, Panama 0 Mexico 0, Trinidad & Tobago 1 Panama 0, Panama 1 United States of America 1, Costa Rica 0 Panama 0, Panama 2 Honduras 2, Mexico 1 Panama 0, Panama 3 Trinidad & Tobago 0, U.S. 4 Panama 0, Panama 2 Costa Rica 1.

"We are going to the World Cup, damn it!" read the front page of Critica newspaper.