Panama made an excellent start to their FIFA Futsal World Cup Colombia 2016 campaign after earning a 3-1 victory over tournament debutants Uzbekistan in Cali on Saturday.
Abdiel Castrellon gave Los Canaleros a half-time lead before Michael De Leon and Fernando Mena ensured the central Americans took all three points from this Group A encounter. Javlon Anorov scored a late consolation goal for the Uzbeks.
The first half was evenly played throughout, with both goalkeepers in Uzebekistan’s Rustam Umarov and Panama’s Jaime Londono forced to make important saves for their teams. Uzbekistan then went closest to scoring after Ilhomjon Hamroev and Dilshod Irsaliev both struck Panama’s right post.
It was not until late in the first half that the Panamanians made the breakthrough with the game’s first goal. After taking a pass from captain Edgar Rivas, Castrellon played an exquisite give-and go with Oscar Hinks before slotting a neat finish past Umarov for a 1-0 lead at the break.
The Asian side looked to get on level terms after restart, but Irsaliev could only strike the crossbar after breaking in on the Panamanian goal.
That proved a costly miss for the Uzbeks, as Panama doubled their lead midway through the second half. Jorge Perez forced a turnover in his own half before breaking in on the Uzbek goal and passing off to De Leon, who finished first-time past Umarov for 2-0. Fernando Mena made sure Panama claimed a valuable win from this opening match by firing home a Jose Brown pass for a three-goal advantage.
The Uzbeks did strike back in the late stages, as Anorov scored his country’s first-ever goal in a Futsal World Cup when he tapped home from close range for a 3-1 final score.
Both teams return to Group A action in Cali on Tuesday 13 September. Panama take on Portugal before Uzbekistan face hosts Colombia.