Uruguay played without one of the English Premier League’s most dominating scorers, Liverpool’s Luis Suarez. Even with the intense Suarez ruled out due to his knee injury, Uruguay were still a favorite over the Central American squad of Costa Rica. However, without Suarez Uruguay looked timid, plain and were outplayed by Costa Rica for most of the match.
Not only has Costa Rica failed to beat Uruguay in their 8 previous meetings, Costa Rica was looked down upon in this other “Group of Death”, Group D. Uruguay, Italy and England were odds on favorites to advance, however Costa Rica has made their presence known and felt in this World Cup tournament with the win.
Though the scoreline might indicate Costa Rica dominated, this was not the case in the early parts of the 1st half. Uruguay found ways to get into attacking positions and were able to threaten early in the half at the ’15 minute mark. The scoring opportunity was negated for off-sides but Uruguay proved they could still look toward striker Diego Forlan, even though Costa Rica came out in a defensive posture with five in the back. Eventually Uruguay would strike first thanks to foward Edinson Cavani. A penalty was awarded to Uruguay after captain Diego Lugano was pulled down in the box by Costa Rica’s Junior Rodriguez. The penalty would be cashed in by Cavani, despite keeper Keylor Navas guessing the right way, putting Uruguay up 1-0.
Costa Rica almost responded immediately when a shot by Joel Campbell just missed sending Uruguay’s defense scrambling. Just before the end of the half Uruguay striker Diego Forlan almost put a second goal in for his side if not for the effort by Keylor Navas to deflect it up and over the crossbar. Uruguay would go into half with a 1-0 lead, but it was anything but a comfortable lead.
Minutes into the second half, Uruguay’s captain Diego Lugano was cautioned with a yellow card for a rough tackle to forward Joel Campbell. Following the foul, in the ’54th minute, Costa Rica would respond with a goal of their own. Forward Joel Campbell answered the bell for Costa Rica after a cross from the right side near the corner flag zipped into the box taking a quick deflection before finding Campbell. Campbell used his chest to settle the ball before striking the ball across the face of the goal and Fernando Muslera could only watch as Costa Rica evened the score.
But wait, there’s more!
Following the goal, were three tumultuous minutes that began with Uruguay’s Walter Gargano receiving a yellow card for clipping the heel of forward Bryan Ruiz. This set up a free kick for Costa Rica just 10-yards outside the penalty area. Christian Bolanos would take the kick and placed a perfect ball towards the left post where Oscar Duarte finished a spectacular header despite the outstretched foot of Uruguay’s defender. Goalkeeper Muslera could only watch as the ball shot past him. He could only stand flat-footed, a look of shock on his face.
The goal was a stunner and a game changer for Costa Rica who took a 2-1 lead in under ’10 minutes into the second half.
There were some changes on Uruguay’s side but they were not enough to rebound after two goals in under three minutes. Costa Rica capped the win with an extraordinary pass from Joel Campbell that found Marco Urena running up the left side of the penalty box. Urena’s finish was masterful as well, the angle was difficult but the technical precision of the strike put the ball in the net and Costa Rica captured the coveted 3-points and their first victory over Uruguay in nine meetings.
The goal put Uruguay’s hopes of a comeback to rest and the frustration in the loss could best be seen when Uruguay’s defender Maxi Pereira received a red card in the ’93rd minute for viciously swinging at the legs of Costa Rica’s Campbell. The foul was obvious and Uruguay will have more issues as Pereira will sit the next match, possibly with Luis Suarez if he is not healthy by then.
Uruguay’s chances may be out of reach as they take on an England side that showed much promise in their opening match. It will not be easy, but both teams will be looking for a needed win if they hope to move out of the group stage. Uruguay take on England on 6/19.
Costa Rica will get a strong Italy team next, a team much more disciplined than the Uruguay team. They play on 6/19.