Monday, 30 June 2014

WC 2014 - Costa Rica qualify for the Last 8, the hard way:

No-one wants to lose a match at the World Cup; especially as a place in the quarter-finals is up for grabs.

Costa Rica vs Greece - arguably one of the most un-desirable matches in the Last 16 did not disappoint, as both teams were eager to qualify for a place in the next round of the most prestigious tournament in the world - the World Cup of course!

A rather tame first-half so limited chances for both sides, with Greece having their fair share of possession and the one clear-cut chance; a great diagonal ball into the box was parried away by goalkeeper Keylor Navas from a good close range effort courtesy of Salpingidis in the first-half.

And then the game started to open up in the second period of time; first, an ambitious effort from Fulham midfielder Bryan Ruiz paid off, as his low drive confused the goalkeeper and resulted in the opening goal of the match.

As a result, Greece were understandably rattled by going 1-0 down and felt that they needed to respond, and quickly - otherwise they would be exiting the competition despite their hard work.

Costa Rica made it hard for themselves after Oscar Duarte was given a second yellow card (and consequently sent off) for a late challenge near the flank on Cholevas.

And then, the Greeks kept up their pressure on the Costa Rican goal and frustrated their opponents, dominating possession for the most part of the match afterwards and making them worried at the back. 

Time was running out, and it was still 1-0. Greece needed a hero to step up and equalise late on, as the fourth official put up his electronic board for 5 minutes of stoppage time. 

And guess what.

Greece made their pressure pay, thanks to a rebounded effort from Dortmund defender Sokratis after a scuffed shot by Gekas was parried by Navas - into the path of Sokratis to power home. 

Mobbed: Sokratis celebrates his late equaliser to send the match into extra time
An extra 30 minutes was needed, but despite a tense atmosphere and a few half-chances for both sides neither team was able to break the other down. 

Meaning that penalties would be needed to decide the winner of the match.

And to be fair, the majority of the spot-kicks were dispatched perfectly - nothing for either goalkeeper to do about it. 

THEN, goalkeeper Navas stole the show with his quick reflexes to deny Theofanis Gekas's shot, which eventually resulted in a 5-3 penalty shoot-out win for the Costa Ricans.

They were understandably relieved having played for 120 minutes and more - qualifying for the Last 8 to play against Holland on Saturday but doing it the hard way. 

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