Costa Rica: First Central American Team to Reach Quarterfinals at a World Cup

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Costa Rica made history by reaching their first World Cup quarter-final at Greece’s expense (it is the first Central American team to reach the quarterfinals at a World Cup), though it was the way they did it that will live long in the memory, surviving half an hour of extra-time with 10 men before going on to prosper in the penalty shootout. Here are details from The Guardian; to read full article, see link below:

Costa Rica's goalkeeper Keylor Navas saves from Greece forward Fanis Gekas in the penalty shoot-out

When Sokratis Papastathopoulos equalised in the 91st minute it appeared Costa Rica were going to suffer the same fate as their Concacaf neighbours, Mexico. Greece’s late goal took the game into extra-time and, after losing Óscar Duarte to a second yellow card midway through the second half, Costa Rica looked to have little chance of survival.

Yet somehow they did, even managing a few enterprising moments of their own through José Miguel Cubero and Randall Brenes. The Greeks were scandalously wasteful of some huge overlaps and promising positions in the second period of extra-time and Kostas Mitroglou saw a shot saved right at the end when he appeared more likely to score. Thus reprieved, Costa Rica completed a perfect set of penalties, scoring all five, with Michael Umaña hitting the winning shot after Theo Gekas saw his effort, Greece’s fourth, saved by Keylor Navas. The goalkeeper, without whom Costa Rica might not have seen extra-time, let alone penalties, dived to his right but beat away Gekas’s shot with his left hand. It was a remarkable conclusion to a dramatic evening. Few World Cup victories can have been achieved against such odds. Costa Rica advance to play Holland in Salvador on Saturday, assuming they have any energy left.

While not quite as draining as the conditions in Fortaleza for Holland-Mexico, which kicked off four hours earlier in the heat of the afternoon, it was still a sultry evening at the Pernambuco Arena. The pace of the game was predictably slow, with both sides playing conservatively at first, though of course Greece always play conservatively. Invited to come forward Costa Rica gradually felt their way into the match, moving the ball around neatly and proving capable of turning past defenders, though when Cristian Gamboa had an early sight of goal he put his effort well wide. [. . .]

For full articles, see http://www.theguardian.com/football/2014/jun/30/costa-rica-greece-world-cup-2014-last-16-match-report and http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/teams/costa-rica/10934743/Costa-Rica-v-Greece-Fairytale-continues-as-minnows-reach-World-Cup-quarter-finals-after-penalty-shootout.html,

Also see Youtube video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fQjDM2HpBqM

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