A late penalty kick converted by Panama substitute Diego Valanta secured a 1-1 draw for Los Canaleros against Mali in the opening matchday of Group E at the FIFA U-20 World Cup Poland 2019.
Chances were few and far between on a sunny early evening in Bydgoszcz, Poland. African champions Mali looked the more dangerous of the sides in the first half, with Mohamed Camara and Lassana N’Diaye posing a considerable threat through the middle. Panama keeper Marcos Allen made a point-blank save from N’Diaye in the 18th minute. But there was nothing he could do about Boubacar Konte’s strike 20 minutes later.
Playing on the counter-attack, Konte dribbled in from the left wing before unleashing a fiercely-driven low shot past a helpless Allen to give The Eagles the lead at the break. Camara struck the crossbar midway through the second half but Mali failed to double their advantage and that proved costly.
Towering centre-back Abdoulaye Diaby fouled Panama left-back Guillermo Benitez just inside the penalty area in the 85th minute, and Valanta did the rest in successfully converting the resulting spot-kick to bring Panama their fourth draw in 16 U-20 World Cup matches.
Next up (Tuesday)
Panama-France (18:00 local time)
Saudi Arabia-Mali (20:30 local time)