FORTALEZA – Gp D; Uruguay 1, Costa Rica 3 —- Costa Rica sprang a major upset by hitting back from a goal down at half-time to defeat the Uruguayans whose poor finals debut, in terms of both result and performance, was a major surprise.
Los Ticos’ were inspired by Arsenal striker Joel Camobell who scored one and made another in a match which also saw the finals’ first red card when Maxi Pereira was sent off just before the finals whistle.
This was Costa Rica’s first World Cup victory since 2002, and only their fourth in the tournament’s history, against a Uruguay side missing the injured Luis Suarez.
Uruguay looked in control for the opening 50 minutes. PSG striker Edinson Cavani wasted a good early chance after Costa Rica failed to clear a Diego Forlan free-kick, with the striker slicing high and wide with the goal at his mercy. He soon made up for that miss.
Costa Rica defender Yeltsin Tejeda conceded a needless free-kick wide on the Uruguay left and when Forlan curled the set-piece into the area, Junior Diaz tried to stop Diego Lugano by wrapping his arms around his waist.
The referee pointed to the penalty spot and Cavani pushed a low shot beyond Keylor Navas’s dive and into the bottom corner.
The goal settled nerves. Uruguay’s passing improved, as did their movement. Forlan, the player of the tournament in 2010, might have made it 2-0 before half-time when his shot struck Duarte’s leg, deflecting it high into the air and requiring Navas to pull off an acrobatic save.
Costa Rica, though, were about to turn the game on its head with Campbell – who is yet to make his Arsenal debut despite signing for the club in 2011 – to the fore.
The striker, who spent last season on loan at Olympiakos, first arrowed a shot narrowly wide from 30 yards, while Giancarlo Gonzales might have scored twice, missing a difficult headed chance and seeing a scrambled toe-poke deflected into the side-netting.
But in the space of three minutes, the game changed beyond recognition.
First, Cristian Gamboa chased a seemingly lost cause wide on the right flank, reaching the ball on the byeline. He delivered a cross which flicked off the head of Celso Borges and fell to Campbell, who controlled and fired beyond Muslera.
Two minutes later, they swept forward again and Walter Gargano conceded a free-kick for a crude tackle on Bryan Ruiz. Christian Bolanos’s delivery was pin-point, Duarte’s low header was brave, the finish sublime.
And there was more drama to come.
With time running out, Costa Rica broke forward again and Urena raced away from Godin and captain Lugano, making perfect contact with his right boot, lifting the ball over Muslera to seal victory for Los Ticos.