FIFA 2014

Costa Rica in first ever World Cup quarterfinal after historic penalty win over Greece

Michael Umana scored the final winning penalty after Theofanis Gekas missed the fourth penalty for Greece with the scores at 4—3.

Costa Rica reached the quarterfinals of the World Cup for the first time in its history after a dramatic 5—3 penalty shoot-out win over Greece on Sunday.

The game had ended 1—1 after extra time and the victory on penalties sets up Costa Rica to play The Netherlands on July 5 in Salvador for a place in the semi—finals. Michael Umana scored the final winning penalty after Theofanis Gekas missed the fourth penalty for Greece with the scores at 4—3. Both teams were trying to reach the quarter—finals for the first time in their history. But with the defences dominating for both the teams, the first half was a cagey affair with only two attempts on goal — both from Greece.

Costa Rica’s best chance in the first half fell to Christian Bolanos in the 8th minute. But after Joel Campbell played him in, the Tico midfielder blasted high and wide from 12 metres out when he should have tested the keeper.

The first shot on target came in the 29th minute when Georgios Karagounis shot tamely from distance straight into the arms of Costa Rica keeper Keylor Navas. Navas had to work harder to keep out the second and last goal—bound attempt of the half in the 42nd minute. Jose Cholevas sent in a raking cross from the left to the far post where Dimitrios Salpingidis met it perfectly, but Navas managed to stick out a leg and turn it around the post for a corner.

The referee blew for half—time a few minutes later, and for one of the only times in this World Cup the 41,000—plus crowd booed and howled as the players left the field to show their frustration at the lack of attacking verve.

As the second half got underway the crowd reignited their enthusiasm for the Latin American team with chants of “Ticos, Ticos.” Greece were still on the front foot, with Georgios Samaras testing Navas with a header from a free kick.

But Costa Rica took the lead in the 53rd minute with its first goal—bound shot of the entire game. Bolanos passed the ball across the edge of the penalty box and the Costa Rica captain Bryan Ruiz swept a sweet left—footed shot first—time into the corner of the Greek goal.

The goal seemed to invigorate the Ticos, who previously had shown little of the dynamism that had made them one of the World Cup’s surprise teams with well-deserved victories over Uruguay and Italy to top a that also included England. From a deep cross two minutes later Vasileois Torisidis was lucky not to concede a penalty when the referee missed his handball while clearing the danger.

Greece failed to seriously threaten the Tico goal even after defender Oscar Duarte was dismissed in the 66th minute after receiving a second yellow card for tripping a Lazaros Christodoulopoulos.

Despite losing Duarte soon after the goal, Costa Rica remained compact and well-organised, succeeding in keeping a frustrated Greek team to a minimum of chances.

Playing with 10 men Costa Rica pulled Ruiz back into midfield leaving Joel Campbell as a lone striker.

Navas was called into action in the 71st minute when he had to claw away a Samaras cross as two Greek attackers rushed in to his far post. Minutes earlier Dimitrios Salpingidis headed tamely wide when he at least should have hit the target.

With three minutes left on the clock Navas dived into a bunch of players to come out with the ball when it seemed that a Greek attacker was sure to poke it goal ward. It was not until the first minute of injury time that Greece equalised with Sokratis tapping home after the ball came out to him from a Navas save.

Greece then went for the kill, with a looping header from Motroglou forcing Navas to tip over acrobatically.

Extra time started with a Greek cross that luckily deflected into Navas’s hands as the strain of playing with 10 men began to tell.

Greece was repeatedly breaking into the Tico area, but fell short on the last pass.

It looked only a matter of time till the Greeks scored, with a shot count of 20 to Costa Rica’s four. Randall Brenes did go close for Costa Rica in the 106th minute, but by now an exhausted Costa Rica was just trying to hang on for penalties. They almost came undone when they advanced for a corner in the 112th minute, which allowed Greece to break. But with a three—man advantage Christodoulopoulos shot straight at Navas when a pass would have been a much better option. Mitroglou had a golden chance to win it in stoppage time but Navas rushed out to block him, deflecting the ball for a corner and setting up a penalty shoot—out.

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Printable version | Mar 31, 2020 10:56:50 PM |

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