Last night’s screw-job that robbed Panama of a Gold Cup upset over Mexico was so egregious, the Mexican press and even some of the players themselves can’t help but cop to getting lucky. Here are some examples of Mexico’s collective sheepishness.

Above is the front page of Récord. The headline reads “Sorry, Panama!” and below that states:

A total scandal. An El Tri without heart nor ideas stole the final from Las Canaleros, who were winning with ten men through 88 minutes, until the referee knifed them with a fabricated penalty.

El Universal agrees with the imaginary nature of the first penalty, and hearkens back to Mexico’s previous match where they also were beneficiaries of a bullshit penalty. Under the headline “The Black Hand” and subhead “Again referees help Mexico, with two penalties they get to the final,” the paper continues:

Tainted by the refereeing for the second consecutive match, Mexico are in the Gold Cup final. The American referee Mark Geiger pointed to a nonexistent penalty against Panama in the 88th minute, when defender Román Torres fell on the ball and the referee awarded the infraction, which saved Miguel “Piojo” Herrera’s team from imminent failure.

Crónica, too, points back to the previous match, with their headline “#ItWasNoPenalty Part II.” They continue:

Grand theft to the Panamanian team, who had their ticket to the final through 88 minutes, however, the American referee Mark Geiger awarded a nonexistent penalty for Mexico, which sent the game into overtime with a goal from Andrés Guardado; the remaining 30 minutes were all Tri, which ended 2-1 with another goal from a penalty.

Were it not for the whistle of [Geiger], El Tri would have accomplished another major failure in the year, but instead they return to the final, one which they should not have even gotten to.

Most telling were the post-match comments of Mexico captain and scorer of both penalties, Andrés Guardado. It was so obvious to him how terrible the call was even in the moment, he briefly considered intentionally missing it. From ESPN FC:

“It was painful. Yes, for a minute, yes [I considered kicking it wide] but in the end, we are professionals and you think about the times you have been on the other side and the hearts of the other team’s players aren’t moved,” Guardado told TV Azteca. “I repeat, this is football, sometimes you are given and sometimes it is taken away. Whether it should have been a penalty or not, that is not our fault.”

Yes, it’s all very magnanimous of the Mexicans to be so apologetic about the whole thing. Though it helps to keep in mind that the Gold Cup is a pretty irrelevant tournament in the grand scheme of things, so magnanimity goes down a little easier than it would had this been in, say, the World Cup. And still, we have a sneaking suspicion most will be celebrating without reservation should they finish things off in the final, penalty gifts or not.

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