HAMILTON, New Zealand (AP) — Panama claimed the 32nd and final place at this year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand with a 1-0 playoff win over Paraguay op Thursday.
Substitute Lineth Cedeno headed the winning goal in the 75th minute to send Panama to its first World Cup, where it play in Group F with Brazil, Jamaica and France.
Panama is the third team to qualify for the World Cup from a 10-team intercontinental playoff tournament held over the last week in New Zealand. Haiti and Portugal also qualified for the first time.
The match was tight and there were few shots on goal in the first half until Panama goalkeeper Yenith Bailey saved Jessica Martinez’s curling free kick in stoppage time.
Again, the keepers weren’t tested in the second half until Marta Cox lofted in a long cross from the right with 15 minutes remaining and Cedeno headed powerfully inside the right post.
Panama now has lost only two of its last 13 matches and has won its last five against South American opponents.
Before Thursday’s match, head coach Ignacio Quintana said his players “want Panama to celebrate and to bring joy to our country.”
Australia and New Zealand will co-host the World Cup from July 20 to Aug. 20.
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