Panama boss Hernan Dario Gomez felt his side lost with “dignity” and was proud of his players for their efforts in the nation’s first ever World Cup match
Los Canaleros held Belgium to a goalless first-half, before Dries Mertens finally broke through Panama’s resistance with a stunning volley.
The 55th place team in the FIFA rankings nearly scored an equaliser shortly after the first goal before Thibaut Courtois quickly came to the rescue to save Michael Murillo’s shot with his legs.
Romelu Lukaku then put the game beyond doubt for Panama with a brilliant header from Kevin de Bruyne’s exquisite pass from the outside of his boot.
The Manchester United forward then added a third to seal a 3-0 win against the World Cup debutants.
“I think we have learned a lot from today’s game. It was a very emotional day. The team was still very emotional at the start of the match but as time went by, they were able to focus better,” said Gomez, according to Sky Sports.
“It was an incredible experience for our country and I think that our performance was not bad. You’re never happy when you lose but I told my players that they lost with dignity. We will keep growing and learning.”
Panama will next meet England on Sunday in Nizhny Novgorod in Group G.