Panama advances to regional finals in World Cup qualifying

Panama advanced to the eight-nation regional finals of World Cup qualifying, playing a 0-0 draw at Curaçao on Tuesday night in Willemstad.

No. 78 Panama won the home-and-home second-round series on 2-1 aggregate following a victory in the home leg on Saturday night.

Edgar Bárcenas of Panama had a penalty kick in the 57th minute saved by Columbus goalkeeper Eloy Room, leaving Curaçao needing only a single goal to advance because of the away-goals tiebreaker.

No. 76 Curaçao was being led by interim coach Patrick Kluivert while coach Guus Hiddink recovers from COVID-19. Panama is ranked 78th.

Panama will open the 14-match final round at home on Sept. 2 against Costa Rica. The eight-nation regional finals also include the United States, Mexico, Honduras and Jamaica.

In late games, No. 70 Canada took a 1-0 lead into its second leg against 83rd-ranked Haiti at Bridgeview, Illinois, and No. 69 El Salvador took a 4-0 lead going into its home leg against 135th-ranked St. Kitts and Nevis.

The top three nations in the regional finals, which run through March 30, advance to the 32-nation field for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. The fourth-place team advances to a playoff for a berth against a team from another confederation.


More AP soccer: and