The United States and Costa Rica look set to take on another World Cup campaign in Brazil 2014 with wins this week in their qualifying group. Will Burns presents a quick round-up.
USA 1-0 HONDURAS: The Jurgen Klinsmann-led USA gained revenge for their loss to Honduras in February with a clinical win over the Catrachos on Tuesday at the Rio Tinto Stadium, Utah. It was not a patch on their blazing performance they put in last week against Panama, but Klinsmann’s team maintained their 100 per cent home record in qualifying with some well-organized, patient football. After wasting a few chances in the first half, the Americans responded by raising their game after the break. Tottenham Hotspur’s Clint Dempsey missed two clear opportunities up to that point, but played a vital role in the goal in the 73rd minute. The US captain laid on an ideal ball for Fabian Johnson, storming down the left wing. The German-born fired in a low cross for in-form AZ Alkmaar striker Jozy Altidore, who continued his good record with a cool finish to tighten the Americans’ grip on top spot. The result was harsh on Honduras, who put in a robust performance but still have yet to score a goal away from home and sit a point behind Mexico in fourth place.
COSTA RICA 2-0 PANAMA: Costa Rica kept up their sparkling form at home with a 2-0 win over a struggling Panama side in San Jose, but the match was not the prettiest game you will see. The first half was played at a frantic pace, but the hosts settled things after the interval. Captain, Fulham’s Bryan Ruiz slammed home a free-kick in the 49th minute and made an assist for Celso Borges for the second shortly after. The second Tico goal was unquestionably a thing of beauty. Borges, a 47-times capped veteran and stalwart of Swedish club side AIK, collected a short pass from Ruiz in midfield after 52 minutes and unleashed a vicious shot from a full 40 yards out that soared and swerved before nestling in the top corner of Jaime Penedo’s goal. Ruiz had a great game and provided the much needed a touch of class for the Costa Ricans. The ever-silky midfield creator even showed a bit of grit on a rain-soaked pitch, scoring the opener with a cleverly taken free-kick from distance early in the second-half and then setting up the second just moments later. He was substituted late in the game to a well-deserved standing ovation.
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