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Greece equalizes late, but Costa Rica advances on penalty kicks

CostaRica1-Greece2014 (Getty)


In the sweltering heat of Recife, holding on to a 1-0 lead over Greece in the 66th minute of the World Cup Round of 16, Costa Rica’s Oscar Duarte was sent off, leaving his team to play with 10 men.

It cost them late in the second half, when Greece’s Sokratis Papastathopoulos scored the latest equalizing goal in a knockout stage match in World Cup history. After that, however, Costa Rica’s will prevailed.

Greece pressed harder and harder the farther along the match went, all the way through the 30 minutes of extra time. There was no putting one past Costa Rica, however, as the Central American club advances to the World Cup Quarterfinals for the first time ever with a 5-3 victory in a penalty kick shootout.

In terms of excitement, there was none, and the scoring opportunities were few and far between for both sides.

It took 52 minutes, but Costa Rica captain Bryan Ruiz finally gave Costa Rica the lead. Christian Bolaños made a run down the left wing, pulled the ball back and played it towards the top of the box for Ruiz. Off balance, Ruiz swung at the ball without taking a touch and tucked it into the bottom-right corner. The quick decision stunned Greece’s defense, particularly goalkeeper Orestis Karnezis, who had committed to defending the left post. He did not make an attempt at scrambling to Ruiz’s shot.

That was Costa Rica’s lone shot on goal throughout the 120 minutes. Most of the time, Costa Rica was on its heels in the defensive third, trying to defend as Greece advanced in numbers. The European side controlled 60 percent of the possession and put eight of its 23 shots on goal.

Defending against Greece’s numbers became difficult because of Duarte’s red card. Already on a yellow card, he stepped wildly at José Holebas, completely missing a ball he never had a chance at getting.

After that, it was up to Keylor Navas to stop Greece’s constant attacks. He was up to the task, even in the 91st minute, when he stopped Theofanis Gekas’ point-blank effort. Unfortunately for Costa Rica’s star goalkeeper, no one was in the vicinity of Sokratis, who put the rebound over Navas, who tried to recover after making the initial save.

Greece continued to press forward in extra time, but only got one noteworthy chance. Breaking out on a counter attack, Greece found itself in a five-on-two opportunity in the 113th minute. With better options available, the ball ended up on the right side of the box with Lazaros Christodoulopoulos, who shot the ball right at Navas.

In the shootout, no one looked likely to miss, even with Navas and Karnezis guessing the correct direction more often than not. With Costa Rica up 4-3 in the fourth round, Navas became the hero, diving to his right to stop Gekas’ effort. That gave Costa Rica defender Míchael Umaña the chance to step up and win the match, firing Los Ticos into the Quarterfinals with a powerful shot that Karnezis guessed correctly on, but had no chance of stopping.

Costa Rica will now play the Netherlands, the Group B winners who prevented an all-CONCACAF quarterfinal with their late victory over Mexico earlier in the day.


  1. After the late equalizer goal, Greece has a good chance to give the final touch but they are little bit behind Costa Rica in the penalty shootout where Greece goal kipper was not able to defend a single goal for his side.

  2. Got back to home my home in Costa Rica just in time to see the match, and incredible and historic victory for an under-manned team! And my little beach town went wild! I’m very proud of my adopted country and would like to repeat what the Costa Rican coach said just before the World Cup began: “We will show them we can play.”

  3. Disagree with the article line: “Most of the time, Costa Rica was on its heels in the defensive third, trying to defend as Greece advanced in numbers.” That was becoming true _after_ the Ticos went up 1-0, and then especially after they went down to 10 men. But for the first hour CR was pressing forward and just couldn’t make the final pass or tried too many 1-on-3 moves against the Greek defensive wall. In any case, I’m happy to see the joy-killing Greece style out, but mainly glad the CONCACAF Ticos advanced! True grit, and heroic keeper play, to get the match to penalties playing with 10 men for the final hour.

    • Very true, plus when CR was up 1-0 they had a clear penalty stolen from them; no not a foul call… a defender deflecting the ball out of a forwards path through his version of the hand of God… Fifa’s Australian ref not too good I would have to say….

  4. Lessons the USMNT should learn from their games and others this tourney going forward:

    Play all 90 to the final whistle!
    Don’t change to defensive strategy with a 1-0 lead!
    Don’t give them time to line up and pass or shoot!
    Lift corners above heads when you have a height advantage!
    They will flop in the penalty area especially on late challenges!
    You have to beat all the people on the field not wearing your uniform – all 14 of them!
    It won’t go in if it’s not on frame – make the keeper stop it!
    Play all 90 to the final whistle!!!!!

  5. Would love to see the Ticos entire team including the subs at the first contact of any player by a dutch player all go down holding thier legs, faces, or whatever and roll around.

  6. They are going to have trouble with Netherlands after going 120+ minutes, half of it being down a man. Hopefully, they can rest up and give them a game.

    • Thank god we don’t have to see Greece play again!

      Costa Rica’s employment of the high line/offside trap has been masterful so it’ll be great to see how Robben and company get through it.


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