Thursday 14 December 2017

WATCH - Panama substitute plays ball-boy with cynical intervention to help country qualify for 2018 World Cup

Panama's Roman Torres celebrates after scoring a goal against Costa Rica. REUTERS/Carlos Lemos
Panama's Roman Torres celebrates after scoring a goal against Costa Rica. REUTERS/Carlos Lemos

Daniel Zeqiri

Time-wasting is a widely accepted yet incredibly frustrating tactic, but one Panama player took the cynical practice to extraordinary lengths as his country made World Cup history.

Unused substitute José González contributed  to his country qualifying for their first World Cup with victory over Costa Rica - for which the President immediately declared a national holiday.

Leading 2-1 at home in their final qualifying match, the fans in Panama City were desperate for their team to run the clock down.

As visitors poured forward looking for an equaliser in the 92nd minute, they won a throw-in deep in Panama's half and the quick-witted González kicked into action.

Sprinting down the touchline, conveniently down an athletics track, he arrived at the loose ball before the Costa Rica player and booted it as far as he could into the stands. He was booked for his troubles.

No doubt he should be given a ticking-off for something so unsporting, but Panama's football authorities could be forgiven for turning a blind eye after their historic achievement.

Twitter users presumed he was a ball-boy, but his starting position on the Panama bench and full-kit under his bib suggests he was a player.

Some competitions operate a multi-ball system so that a ball going into touch is immediately replaced.

The Premier League famously outlawed Stoke City - during the days of Rory Delap's long throws - from using a towel to dry the ball before throw-ins. It was considered part of Stoke's home advantage until deemed unfair.

Panama progressed at the expense of the USA, who will miss their first World Cup since 1982. Panama's first goal against has been dubbed a 'ghost goal', after Blas Perez appeared to have been blocked on the line.

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