Crucial Panama World Cup qualifying goal doesn't actually cross line

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Then there was Panama's 2-1 victory over Costa Rica under the most controversial of circumstances.

Their place at a eighth successive World Cup had been under threat since they
succumbed to home losses at the hands of Mexico and Costa Rica last November.

The 60th-ranked South American nation booked an historic berth at the showpiece by beating neighbouring Costa Rica 2-1 in a dramatic qualifying match on Wednesday (NZT) - and celebrated by partying on the streets of Panama City, with the country's President even declaring Thursday a public holiday.

Roman Torres went on to score the victor in the 88th minute and send Panama to their first World Cup as a result, while the USMNT finished fifth in the Hexagon and just a single point off the interconfederation play-off. provided footage of the phantom goal in question, where Torres' attempt to turn the ball into the net fell short despite the referee's decision to award an equaliser at the time.

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However, when the Costa Rica player went to collect the ball, a Panama substitute put the burners on and beat him to it, smashing the ball away in the process.

When a corner was swung into the box in the 52nd minute, visiting goalkeeper Patrick Pemberton wildly missed his punch and the ball ended up bouncing goalwards off Panama's Gabriel Torres and kissing the post.

The achievement prompted Panama president Juan Carlos Valera to declare a public holiday and left the usurped US wondering what went wrong.

Replays show the ball never crossed the line.

Australia will now play Honduras in an intercontinental playoff next month while the United States will miss the World Cup altogether after going down to Trinidad and Tobago.