#WorldCup: Costa Rica Advances on Penalties

Surprise Group D winner Costa Rica defeated Group C runner-up Greece on penalty kicks on Sunday evening in Recife, Brazil, after a 1-1 draw to advance to the 2014 FIFA World Cup Quarterfinals. Costa Rica’s 5-3 win on penalties sends them to the Quarterfinals for the first time in the nation’s history.

Bryan Ruiz opened the scoring for Costa Rica in the 52nd minute, but a 66th minute red card to the Central American side’s defender Oscar Duarte gave Greece an opening. The Greeks struggled to take advantage, but found an equalizer through Sokratis in the 91st minute. Costa Rica managed to hang on through overtime and then won on penalties after Keylor Navas saved Theofanis Gekas penalty in the fourth round and everyone else converted their attempts.

Costa Rica had the better of the early play, but Greece nearly opened the scoring in the 37th minute when José Holebas picked out Dimitris Salpingidis at the far post with a perfect cross from the left flank. Salpingidis hit a shot towards the far post that Costa Rican ‘keeper Keylor Navas somehow managed to keep out with a leg save while leaning the other way.

Greece came out looking the better side early in the second half, but Costa Rica took the lead through Bryan Ruiz in the 52nd minute. After Christian Bolaños sent the ball to Ruiz at the top of the box from the left flank, Ruiz one-timed a low shot to the far post. Ruiz’s effort lacked pace, but a flat-footed Orestis Karnezis was rooted to the spot as the ball rolled inside the far post to put Costa Rica up 1-0.

But Greece got a lifeline in the 66th minute when Oscar Duarte picked up his second yellow card of the match and was subsequently ejected for a foul on José Holebas, leaving the Costa Ricans down a man for the rest of the game.

Greece still struggled to create dangerous chances, despite the man advantage, but threatened in the 88th minute when Lazaros Christodoulopoulos sent a dangerous cross into the box from the left flank. Christodoulopoulos’ effort deflected off a Greek player near the edge of the 6-yard box, but bounced right into Navas’ hands to end the danger.

Greece finally found the equalizer in the first minute of stoppage time. Navas impressively parried away a shot from Theofanis Gekas, but the rebound fell right to Sokratis, who easily finished from close range to knot the score.

Navas denied Greece a winner two minutes later with a big save to tip over a header by Mitroglu.

Costa Rica managed to hang on through extra time to send the game to penalties where each side hit their first three attempts. Joel Campbell converted his effort for Costa Rica and then Gekas saw his attempt for Greece saved by Navas to give Costa Rica a 4-3 lead. Michael Umaña then scored Costa Rica’s fifth penalty to clinch the victory.

Greek manager Fernando Santos was ejected for arguing with the referees prior to the shootout.

Costa Rica advances to face the Netherlands on July 5.

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About Sean Donahue

Sean Donahue has been covering the New England Revolution since 2002 for various publications. He has covered four MLS Cups, in addition to covering various international matches, including World Cup Qualifying and the CONCACAF Gold Cup. He has done freelance work for the AP and ESPN Boston. Sean hosted Revolution Recap, a weekly radio program covering the New England Revolution and U.S. Men's National Team from 2005-2008. He is a member of the North American Soccer Reporters. Sean can be reached at nesoccertoday@gmail.com or followed on twitter @SeanLDonahue