The match marked the 100th international appearance for 29-year-old striker Stern John, who was presented with an award by President George Maxwell Richards, before the kick-off, for his accomplishment.
But the match may be the last for a number of the players, who are yet to find any solution to their impasse with the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF).
After the match John told a media conference that the players were scheduled to meet again with the TTFF this morning and if no progress is made, their threat to retire from the international game will be carried out.
Trinidad and Tobago coach Wim Rijsbergen made four changes from the team that trounced St Vincent and the Grenadines 5-0 on Saturday, with Trent Noel, Avery John, Dwayne Jack and Jones replacing Dwight Yorke, Nigel Daniel, David Atiba Charles and Jason Scotland.
Panama, with typical Latin American flair and pace, controlled the early moments of action with quick, short passing and anticipation of loose balls in the midfield area.
The Central Americans came close to opening the scoring in the sixth minute, as striker Blas Perez sent playmaker Gabriel Gomez behind central defender Dwayne Jack but goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams came up with a timely block.
Jack, in only his second international, struggled to find his way, in tandem with Dennis Lawrence in the back, and he was guilty of an infringement in the 19th when he held striker Anel Canales on the edge of the penalty area. The resultant freekick by Gomez whizzed over the top of the TT crossbar. Trinidad and Tobago then got into stride, as Jones tested the Panamanian goalkeeper Oscar McFarlane with a low 25-metre right footed drive in the 22nd. And in the 27th, Jones was sent clear on the left flank by Noel and the combative striker blew past stopper Jose Anthony and crossed to Stern John, but an alert McFarlane was on hand to collect the ball.
McFarlane could do nothing to prevent Jones from breaking the deadlock in the 33rd, as the 22-year-old striker chased a long diagonal ball from left-back Avery John, intercepted a back-header by Carlos Rivera and chipped the ball over the bemused goalkeeper.
Samuel doubled Trinidad and Tobago’s lead in the 40th, as he received a defence-splitting pass by Stern John (wearing the captain’s armband in place of Yorke), waited for the off-side flag and the retreating defenders— both never showed up— and calmly tucked his right-footer to the left of McFarlane. Stern John, who had a low-keyed performance, could have widened the advantage three minutes later, but his close-range right-footer went wide after he mistimed a cross from right-winger Carlos Edwards.
Panama, who never gave up trying, reduced the deficit in the 44th, with Luis Henriquez getting past Cyd Gray on the left and sending a long cross beyond Williams, and Victor Herrera Piggot outjumped Lawrence to head home, inside the six-yard box.
Noel, who worked hard without much reward in the defensive midfielder spot, gave away a loose ball in the TT penalty box but Perez’s blast went wide in the 63rd while, in the 70th, Edwards collected a low pass from Chris Birchall and sent a cross to substitute Kerry Baptiste, but the pint-sized midfielder headed overbar.
The crowd, estimated at 10,000, the majority being schoolchildren in uniform, failed to see any more goals from the hosts, as Edwards, receiving a relayed header from Lawrence, after a Birchall corner, had his 80th minute header saved at point-blank range.
Following the match, Rijsbergen admitted that it was not an easy game due to the tougher competition they faced last night, in comparison to the Vincentian outfit on Saturday.
TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO: Jan-Michael Williams; Dennis Lawrence, Dwayne Jack (David Atiba Charles 76th), Avery John, Cyd Gray; Trent Noel (Kerry Baptiste 63rd), Carlos Edwards, Collin Samuel, Chris Birchall (Nigel Daniel 80th); Kenwyne Jones (Jason Scotland 71st), Stern John (capt).
PANAMA: Oscar McFarlane; Carlos Rivera, Jose Anthony (capt), Luis Henriquez (Ubaldo Guardia 56th), Luis Moreno; Alberto Blanco, Victor Herrera Piggot (Ricardo Phillips 71st), Amilkar Henriquez (Reggie Arosemena 63rd), Gabriel
Gomez; Anel Canales, Blas Perez.