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Campbell leads Costa Rica to unexpected comeback win over Uruguay

JoelCampbellCostaRica1-Uruguay2014 (Getty)


Uruguay kept Costa Rica out of the FIFA World Cup in 2010, which clearly did not sit well with the pesky CONCACAF side.

Even without injured scoring expert Álvaro Saborío, Los Ticos provided the 2014 World Cup with its first major upset on Saturday, as Joel Campbell led Costa Rica back from a halftime deficit to beat the No. 7 team in the world, 3-1, at the Estadio Castelão in Fortaleza, Brazil.

Midway through the third day of the tournament, CONCACAF is the only confederation that remains undefeated. Teams from South America, Africa, Europe and Asia have all lost, while Costa Rica and their North American brethren, Mexico, both won their opening matches.

Early on, Uruguay looked capable of living up to their reputation as a fearsome attacking side, even without star forward Luis Suarez, who is still not fully fit after knee surgery 23 days ago.

His powerful strike partner, Edison Cavani, had a chance to put Uruguay ahead within the first 20 minutes, but the PSG striker looked like a spinning top as he went for the ball. Cavani lunged towards the ball, barely made contact and then went spinning and tumbling out of control as the ball went out of play.

Costa Rica, despite all their protests, conceded a penalty minutes later, when Júnior Diaz pulled down Diego Lugano as the two went for the ball when it was played into the box from a free kick. Keylor Navas correctly guessed that Cavani would go to the bottom right corner with his spot kick, but to stop El Matador is a Herculean task, one Navas was not up for as Cavani gave Uruguay the lead.

Uruguay nearly doubled its advantage in the 44th minute. Diego Forlan attempted a shot from the left corner of the box that was deflected by Oscar Duarte, but the ball nearly looped into the goal, stopped only by a Superman save from Navas.

Duarte had an incredible opportunity to level for Costa Rica less than five minutes into the second half. A free kick from nearly 40 yards out landed perfectly for the defender at the corner of the six-yard box, but his header went right at Fernando Muslera. Duarte got the ball back off the save, but his rebound effort went across the face of goal, nowhere close to hitting the back of the net.

Costa Rica was down, but with Campbell on the pitch, never out.

The 21-year-old, surely growing tired of hearing the words “on loan from Arsenal,” probably caught the attention of Arsène Wegner with a thunderous strike in the 54th minute that leveled the match. Campbell, who barely missed from 30 yards out in the first half, collected the ball in the middle of the box and fired a left-footed strike passed the helpless Muslera.

Three minutes later, Costa Rica took the lead, with Duarte making up for his earlier mishap. This time, there was no stopping his header from almost the same spot. Duarte got on the end of a brilliantly-placed free kick from Christian Bolaýos and nestled the shot just inside the far post.

Uruguay’s Martin Caceres avoided serious punishment from referee Felix Brych with less than 10 minutes to play. The Juventus man went in recklessly against Cristian Gamboa, sliding in with his studs up. The German lawyer overseeing the match decided to spare Caceres, giving him a yellow card.

But even without the sending off, Campbell was able to complete his legendary performance and seal Costa Rica’s finest win in the 84th minute with a brilliant through ball into the path of substitute Marco Ureña. All the center forward had to do was tap the ball past the charging Muslera. Before the ball could cross the line, Costa Ricans had already begun their teary celebrations.

Uruguay lost its composure at that point. In the 94th minute, Maxi Pereira was sent off for kicking Campbell in the shin as he tried to swing at the ball, which he was not even close to getting.


  1. I still think Group G will finish in a 4-way tie on 4 points each.. Goal difference or goals for will decide. What’s next, a coin flip?

    • Before drawing lots, goals for and goal differential is reconsidered after removing from consideration any goals from games against team(s) not involved in the tiebreaker.

  2. What we’re seeing is that the space between the world’s best teams and the next tier of times is diminishing. Croatia was right with Brazil the whole way. Costa Rica, while not playing a top power, defeated a very good side fairly easily.

    Ghana and the US are both capable of not only advancing, but winning the group. Germany and Portugal are bette teamsr, but there are a lot of variables (weather, injuries, chemistry) that tend to be downplayed in making evaluations. Factor them back in and it’s closer than it appears.

  3. Ghana has enough quality to beat every team in our group. Indeed, we are looking forward to amassing all the maximum points to top the group. We compensate our weakness in defense with our cream of world class talented mid fielders and sharp attackers. Asamoah Gyan has scored more goals in a WC than Messi, Ronaldo and Roony combine.
    @BrianK, you are always welcome

    • Every team in our group has enough talent to beat every other team in our group. The same is true of nearly every group. Ghana is not special.

      “_________ has scored more goals in a WC than Messi, Ronaldo and Rooney combined.” Ooo, wow. In other words: 4 goals. Just say 4, instead of listing people like Rooney who haven’t even scored one.

  4. Uruguay is overrated team,they only got to the semi final in 2010 because they cheated “Suarez catching the ball” and not by their strength. I thought he was going to continue where he left off….. but to my dismay, he was sitting at the bench looking at the ball crossing the goal line three times

    • “only got to the semi final in 2010 because they cheated”

      Wow! That’s all it takes to reach the semi?! More teams should try that strategy: one hand ball, and you’re one step from the Final!

  5. Uruguay is good but this is now and CR didn’t care about what Uruguay had accomplished two years ago. They looked slow and frustrated and I was very happy to see Uruguay get licked. Now to see them get bounced from the tournament would be awesome.

  6. i thought costa rica was convincingly the better side, and scored some very good goals. Wouldnt it be just fantastic if they knocked the English out.

    • It’s a very real possibility they send the english packing. England have once again a squad of individual class talents but they just stopped working as a team at the end of the Italy game. England will beat Uruguay while I predict CR and England will draw. Italy will win all three games and advance with CR on goal diff.

      • Of course Italy completing 92.2% of its passes (the best WC stat since 1966) helped keep English heads spinning.

  7. the only game looked at the WC was against the Brazil when they decided to rely on offside which they did poorly. most people in Ghana consider it to be one of best ever in the WC. we played very well aside our mishap in defense. we have beaten u convincingly, u guys will go mute after the game. heard it hear first.

    • Most Americans respect Ghana a great deal. I’d look to some Portugal or Germany boards if you want to find some people over looking your team.

    • Emma,

      Are you joking? Hard pressed to find USA supporters who look down on Ghana. Sorry but your comments say more about your view(s) than USA supporters.

      Question,….are you posting from Ghana or are you living in the USA? Just curious. I am thinking about moving to Ghana for work, the superior social services and democratic system? Would you recomend it? Would your government and citizens provide me with entry to your country and opportunity to advance myself?

  8. This will sound disingenuous, but I’ve thought Uruguay was overrated for a while. A nation that small (1 million fewer people than Costa Rica) can’t possibly be so much better than so many other teams. Let’s remember that Uruguay had to go to an intercontinental playoff to even get to the WC…yet they were seeded? They were overly buoyed by participating in the confederations cup and winning Copa America on a Cinderella run where someone else knocked out Brazil.

    • Yeah apparently they’ve barely qualified and their ranking come from the Copa America where they lost to every other large side and only beat minnows like Paraguay and Peru.

      • There aren’t any minnows in South America, that’s why it’s the most competitive region in World Cup qualifying. Also how exactly is Paraguay a minnow? They had a terrible qualifying campaign this time around, but were World Cup quarterfinalists in 2010 and made the round of 16 in 1998 and 2002. They aren’t San Marino or Barbados.

      • Get out. There are minnows Peru Suriname Guyana, come on now. That’s without getting into Venezuela and Ecuador.

      • Okay you obviously are trolling, know absolutely nothing about South American soccer, or have no idea what makes a team a minnow. Peru is a bad team, but it’s nowhere near to being a minnow. Not even Bolivia falls into that category. Venezuela hasn’t been a minnow in about a decade and Ecuador is in this World Cup for crying out loud. Please stop embarrassing yourself. It’s fine to be upbeat about the US, but talking absolute nonsense to justify your idea of where the US should be in the world of soccer just makes you look stupid.

    • I’m not shocked at this result. In fact, I put money on Costa Rica to win this game. It’s funny to me how virtually every time this group was previewed, Costa Rica wasn’t even MENTIONED. Like they weren’t even there. Knew then just as I knew when I put that bet, that they would force people to notice them.

      • What funny is now the story line has just turned to “Uruguay was awful” I wouldn’t over look this Costa Rica team for a second, if I’m England or Italy. Ruiz didn’t even play as well as he can.

  9. Costa Rica gets placed in very tough group but they didn’t all wring their hands and start making excuses like Klinsmann and a lot of USMNT fans have already done lowering the bar to prepare for an early WC exit but instead kept their mouths shut and went into the game fired up and did what it took to get three points. Ghana is ranked 37th in the world for a reason and if Klinsmann cannot get a win Monday against Ghana doing it his way then also fails to get a result in the next two games then he should be fired.

    • Let’s be serious here… Klinsmann said our goal is the semis…maybe not as optimistic as some Americans would like, but certainly not “making excuses” for not getting out of the group.

    • You are out of synch with this particular part of the universe…….

      Klinnsman is a very competitive and experienced manager. I’m sorry you have not a clue as to what he is saying and his approach.

    • Yeah…actually all of the Ticos were as surprised as everyone else that they won. They were much more negative about their chances than we were. Plus, noone is making excuses for the US. We will make it out of our group.

    • zac don’t be swayed by Ghana’s ranking. our coach has never played his A team in friendlies and its something we Ghanaians complain a lot. he likes experimenting and giving the young lads chance to prove themselves. Costa Rica has done very well which also makes us think that this could be our year. u guys shd expect a wonderful game from us. when much is expected we deliver. check Ghana v Egypt in Kumasi and against Zambia we had to win and we won convincingly. the boys will be playing like a win will guarantee them Heaven. I must caution u guys, a cricket score line should expected cos they’re poised for the match. remember Ghana v Germany? if u don’t plz watch it again. its a herculean task wanting to beat Ghana. plz target other games cos there will be surprises in the group. thanks bro

      • That’s fine, but it doesn’t change much. Klinsmann has decided this World Cup is all about him. Zero points from it and he has to go. Seriously just asking for 1 point from this team out of 3 matches is not asking much at all.

        Also I’m pretty tired of hearing from people that Klinsmann is building for 2018. He has built nothing. Don’t take Jones, Beckerman, Wondo, Davis, Rimando and the other over 30’s that could be replaced by just as good younger players. This team on average is older then most in the tournament.

      • Who the F is asking for just one point in three matches? This isn’t even a straw man argument. This is a paper tissue man.

      • You Ghannians are getting zero points regardless of who you play come on. You don’t have prayer, you’ve barely beaten the US in 2010 when we played horribly.

      • Emma, since our coach, his players and everyone else close to the USMNT has said beating Ghana is imperative, we as fans must believe and put a huge amount of our WC hopes on this one game.

        What Ghana and the US has done in the past means nothing. It’s all about what happens on Monday. This US team has a few players who will remember the loss to Ghana in 2010 but more new players that won’t give a sh** about that game.

    • “they didn’t all wring their hands and start making excuses ”

      Yeah? How do you know that? You follow the Ticos closely do you?

  10. Well done Ticos. Changing the subject but does anyone else think this put pressure on Klinsmann? 0 points is just not acceptable now.

      • less about being an acceptable and more about being expected. If the US lost all three but kept the games close, I don’t think that would go down as a shock. But with other teams defying odds I wonder if it gives the USA a greater sense of hope or opportunity.

        I agree w/ Jack that the USA is probably noticing a result like this. USA beat Costa Rica

      • I’m not even saying we have to get out of the group but not getting a single point would be a step backwards.

      • I don’t look at it like that because I think zero points always wouldve been bad.. i look at it like, a tough group isn’t an excuse anymore. If they do get 0 points Klinsmann has to own it. Other teams are squeezing out points against tough teams

      • We’re getting out of group. If anything it removes pressure if the Los Ticos can do that to Uruguay what can we do to Portugal?

        After that Nigeria match I have every confidence in the this team and Klinsman.

      • You’re comparing Uruguay to Portugal? Outside of Cavani, Suarez, and Forlan (who are all strikers), Uruguay is pretty average. It has basically no one outstanding in midfield (which I’m surprised most soccer analysts seem to overlook when talking about them), and their defense is just okay.

        Portugal has at the moment, the world’s best player, plus Nani, Varela, Moutinho Coentrao, and Pepe, It has someone that’s strong in every position. Not even close to comparable.

      • You are right on!i
        Portugal, at this ypoint is vastly superior to Uruguay.,starting with,the goalkeeper, midfielder etc Look how gUrugay looked against
        Costa Rica.
        Joe Santos, sr

      • Portugal does have a really good team, thanks mainly to CR7 (mentioning Pepe, Nani and Coentrao doesn’t win you points), but it’s just plain ignorance to say Uruguay is pretty average.
        This is the team that finished 3rd in SA2010 (vs Portugal 11 or so).
        And besides Cavani and Forlan, you have Godin and Rodriguez with Atletico Madrid, Caceres champion with Juve, and other players in top teams. So yeah, pretty average is kind of an understatement.

    • LOL at the pathetic fans who ever thought 0 points was ever acceptable, OR expected.

      I expect us to get out of the group. I can’t wait for them to “shock” the eurosnobs who discarded us just like they did Costa Rica and the rest of CONCACAF.

      CONCACAF reppin so far!

      • He is an amazing GK. Definitely better than Howard who is prone to lapses in big games and has suspect positioning. We saw everything you could want in a keeper from Navas yesterday. Great on crosses, wonderful reflex saves, decisive, calm, great delivery and of course great positioning. Howard is a bit overrated and mostly gets credit for making easy saves look ridiculously hard.

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