Costly Loss: Canada falls 2-0 to Panama in key World Cup qualifying game

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PANAMA CITY - Rolando Blackburn and Blas Perez each scored as Panama beat Canada's men's soccer team 2-0 on Tuesday in World Cup qualifying.

Blackburn struck in the 23rd minute after rising above some suspect Canadian marking to head in the ball just inside the post.

Perez added another in the 57th minute to raucous applause inside the Estadio Rommel Fernandez to put his side atop Group C.

Canada won the first leg of the home-and-home series 1-0 at BMO Field in Toronto on Friday.

Meanwhile Honduras beat Cuba 1-0 to move to second place in the four-team group. The result dropped Canada to third on goal differential.

Canada hosts Cuba next month before facing Honduras on the road. Only the top two teams of the CONCACAF group move on to the final round of World Cup qualifying.

Canada looked out of sorts in the first few minutes while Panama appeared buoyed by the incredible noise made by the home supporters.

Then six minutes in, the lights went out.

A bank of lights in the stadium's north end went out and remained that way for about 14 minutes. When play resumed, Canada had taken out star striker Dwayne De Rosario due to a knee injury that he suffered on an earlier tackle.

The delay provided an opportunity for the Canadian medical staff to work on De Rosario, but in the end they had to replace him with Tosaint Ricketts.

Just minutes after play resumed in the 24th minute, Canada got one of their best chances when Marcel de Jong had a shot from the left-hand side flash across the face of goal and go wide.

Not to be outdone, Panama's Alberto Quintero skillfully eluded both David Edgar and Kevin McKenna before unleashing a powerful right-footed shot that forced Lars Hirschfeld to make a diving save to his left.

Panama got on the board after Blackburn found space on a corner kick despite being surrounded by several Canadian defenders to go up 1-0.

Coming out of the locker-room in the second half, Canada quickly won a few corner kicks in pursuit of an equalizer. Those came to nothing and in the 57th minute, Panama doubled their advantage.

Quintero led an attack on the left wing and easily evaded a sliding Edgar tackle. Hirschfeld raced off his line to try to cut down the angle but Quintero cut the ball back and Perez was there to stab it home from close range.

Organizations: BMO Field

Geographic location: Canada, PANAMA CITY, Honduras Toronto Cuba

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