World Cup: Panama's crazy 'ghost goal' in 2017 that eliminated USA

In the early hours of Thursday morning UK time, the United States of America booked their place at the 2022 World Cup.

Gregg Berhalter’s side were beaten 2-0 by Costa Rica in their final CONCACAF qualifier, but that result was still enough for the team to earn a spot in Friday’s group stage draw.

USA finished third in their qualification group behind Mexico and Canada, with 2014’s surprise package Costa Rica sitting in the play-off position.

For USA, the 2022 World Cup out in Qatar will be a tournament to savour after they missed out on the 2018 edition of football’s biggest festival.

They finished fifth in their qualifying group and therefore didn’t even get a shot at redemption in the play-offs.

The manner in which they were eliminated was rather controversial, though.

On the final matchday, USA didn’t exactly help themselves by losing 2-1 to Trinidad & Tobago.

But that result would have still been enough for a play-off spot had Panama failed to win their match against group runners-up Costa Rica.

Sadly for USA, Panama achieved victory by a 2-1 scoreline. However, the equaliser in the match was the definition of farcical.

There was a scramble in the box from a corner kick and at first glance, the ball looked as if it may have gone over the line before going wide of the post.

However, the replays told a very, very different story…

Video: Panama’s ‘ghost goal’ vs Costa Rica

That is why goal line technology is so important. The ball clearly didn’t cross the line, but the officials still awarded a goal to Panama that put them on the road to World Cup qualification.

USA had every right to feel aggrieved by the events that unfolded, although victory over Trinidad & Tobago would ultimately have solved all their problems.

So they only have themselves to blame really, but that still doesn’t mean Panama’s ‘ghost goal’ wasn’t a complete and utter joke.

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Thankfully, there hasn’t been a similar incident in 2022 World Cup qualification.

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