Canada was minutes away from advancing at the CONCACAF Gold Cup, until a last-gasp equalizer from Panama dashed its hopes.
Luis Tejada scored in extra time during a chaotic scramble Tuesday as Panama tied Canada 1-1.
Canada needed a win to advance, and looked like it was going to get one after Dwayne De Rosario scored on a penalty in the 62nd minute.
Instead, Tejada's goal left Canadian hopes dangling by a thread, and then the United States dealt the deathblow with a 1-0 win over Guadeloupe later Tuesday.
Tejada scored after Canadian defenders were unable to handle a corner kick from Panama's Eric Davis. A shot bounced off the crossbar of the Canadian goal and ricocheted around the box. Goalkeeper Milan Borjan was unable to contain the ball and Tejada helped it across the goal-line.
"It's unbelievable," Borjan said. "You're winning, you're playing good all game and the last minute they score and it's just unbelievable. It's like somebody stabs you in the heart."
It was another frustrating game for a Canadian team that has had difficulty scoring throughout the tournament. De Rosario's penalty goal was his — and Canada's — second goal in three games. The other also came from the spot in a 1-0 win against Guadeloupe.
Canada controlled much of the possession, especially in the first half, but seemed to lack ideas on how to break down their Central American opponents.
"Today was probably our best game, especially in the first half but in your period of domination, if you don't score, you don't win," said Canadian coach Stephen Hart.
"We have to be a lot more composed and a lot more [decisive] in our finishing and we weren't. We had three very good opportunities in the first half and any other time you could have a striker who would put them away but we didn't."
Panama won the group with seven points, the U.S. finished second with six, Canada third with four and Guadeloupe failed to pick up a point."Our goal before the start of this tournament was to come out on top of our group," said Panamanian coach Julio Dely Valdes. "Now that we have done that, our goal is to go as far as possible in the Gold Cup and essentially win the whole thing."
De Rosario's 17th goal for Canada moved him into sole possession of third place on the list of all-time Canadian goal scorers. His penalty was the first competitive goal scored at the new Livestrong Sporting Park, the home of Sporting Kansas City of Major League Soccer.
De Rosario was held back and fell in the box while trying to get to a cross and was awarded a penalty. He calmly stepped up and made no mistake.
The stadium was filling up with American supporters who were in to watch the second game, and since a Canadian win would give the Americans a chance to win the group, a roaring cheer from the American supporters behind the Panama net greeted De Rosario's goal.
"I think we played well. I think, especially in the first half, we created some good chances. At the moment, it's just a feeling of disappointment," midfielder Terry Dunfield said. "It's tough. No one wants to be going home right now. I think we're good enough to be competitive in this tournament. On another day we would have won it by two or three."
Panama, having already clinched a spot in the quarter-finals and needing a single point to win group C, made six changes from the squad that beat the United States 2-1 on Saturday.
As the game neared its conclusion, Panama started pressing Canada but it looked as though the Canadians would just about hang on.
Just as the officials announced there were to be three minutes of extra time, a shot went off the cross-bar that led to a scramble in front, leading to Tejada's goal.
The referee from Guatemala paused for a moment as though deciding whether or not there was a foul, but he eventually awarded the goal, breaking the Canadian players' hearts.
Canada's next competitive action likely won't be until September, when World Cup qualifying is expected to begin for them.
"We just have to keep going," said forward Simeon Jackson. "It's that belief sometimes in front of goal —that killer instinct sometimes. I have faith in the guys, all the players together. We have a belief and we just have to keep showing that and bring that into the qualifying."