Sunday, June 29, 2014

Costa Rica 1 Greece 1 (5-3 penalties)

Costa Rica beat Greece in the second knockout game to end in a penalty shoot out, ensuring CONCACAF representation in the quarterfinals.

The first half amounted to watching a mule drag a plow back and forth for 45 minutes.  Costa Rica was afraid to commit too many men forward, so it was up to Bryan Ruiz and Joel Campbell to break directly whenever space presented itself.  This wasn’t often, but it was still enough for Campbell to get the Texas Chainsaw Massacre treatment -- the Greek defensive corps delivering a steady stream of hacks and swipes to his lower limbs.  

The only true chance in the opening frame came through Dimitris Salpingidis.  A magnificent cross from Jose Holebas was redirected on target, only to see  Keylor Navas’s trailing leg send it wide.

The Greeks came out with more attacking intent after the break but were soon punished by Ruiz's gently-guided finish to the far corner.  Campbell came into the tournament renowned for his speed, but his hold-up play with back to goal has been a pleasant surprise and was crucial in the build-up to Costa Rica’s opener.

A response was required from The Pirate Ship and Oscar Duarte consigned to give the Greeks a lifeline back into the match, picking up his second yellow card for a late tackle on 66 minutes.  

25 minutes later, the Europeans scraped together their equalizer.  Navas slapped away Theo Gekas’s attempt, but Sokratis Papastathopoulos tucked away the rebound to send the blue and white corner of the stadium into pandemonium. Substitute Kostas Mitroglu almost won it in regular time but Navas’s sprawling save ensured another half hour of open play.

Navas rose to Mitroglu’s challenge once more in extra time, stopping the Fulham man's bouncer just before the two hour whistle for penalties.

Both teams made their first three, but the main man Navas got a hand to Greece’s fourth attempt — punching clear Gekas’s shot and allowing defender Michael Umana to deliver the final blow.  Costa Rica will now face the Netherlands in a bid to continue its incredible Brazilian run.

No Short Corners Man of the Match: Keylor Navas.  Massive.


Unknown said...

Welcome to CONCACAF Greece

Zach said...

Gyau to Dortmund?!

Greg Seltzer said...

Yeah, it seems like he is on a trial with BD II, but I am not yet exactly sure what is going on. Hopefully later I will have more info.