WORLD CUP: Greek tragedy as Costa Rican cry tears of joy






This game saw two of the tournament’s underdogs clash in a unexpected round of 16 tie. Costa Rica toping one of the groups of death while Greece, in an unconvincing manner was able to qualify from their group 2nd.

Theofanis Gekas

Game started somewhat edgy with Costa Rica conceding an early free kick before even a full minute was played, it was unconvincingly cleared and the follow up shot from the greeks went high. After which the 2 teams looked to establish their game, with Greece looking to maintain the ball, trying their best not to give the ball way carelessly, always willing to recycle possession. Costa Rica on the other hand were quite the opposite, they were more than willing to play quick flicks as well as long passes that were aimed at releasing their attacking outlets in Campbell, Ruiz and Bolanos.

            The game continued as a drab, and somewhat sloppy affair, and in the early minutes Costa Rica was able to pinch the ball off the Greeks quite a few times, most notable was when Samaris was sloppy with the ball for the Greeks and saw Costa Ricas danger man Campbell, break forward and pick out Ruiz but he took too much time to then make up his mind, allowing Greece to recover the ball. Costa Rica continued trying to established a fluid style, Greeks remained patient and rigid, it eventually payed off for the Greeks who had undoubtedly the best chance of the half, when a brilliant cross was played in the box with Salpingidis meeting the ball and what seemed a certain goal went flying wide. Navas came up with a miraculous kick save to keep the game level. Greece then went on to have a dominant final 10mins. With them shading the first half in terms of dominance.

            The second half saw Greece picking up from where they left off in the first, seemingly trying to make their man advantage count, which saw them get an early free kick in the half. The ball was whipped in but headed directly at Costa Rican Keeper K. Navas. The game then took an interesting turn when against the run of play Costa Rica was able to find the opener. Costa Rica recovered a ball from a 50-50 in midfield and the ball was played to Joel Campbell, who played it wide to Bolanos, then the ball was cut back to Brian Ruiz at the edge of the box to calmly side footed it into the far corner with the keeper planted on his feet. Costa Ricas risky high press approach was showing dividends despite sloppy possession, and they went on to sustain 5-10mins of pressure.

            The turning point of the game came though when in the 66th minute Duarte saw a second yellow for a silly tackle on Holebas. Costa Rica who were already finding the greeks hard to break down, now faced an uphill battle despite being a goal up. Greece looked to capitalise on their man advantage by spreading the play, but instead of stretching Costa Rica, they opted to play crosses in to their tall strikers, at that point Mitroglou and Gekas were already subbed on. The main threat for the Greeks was Christodoulopoulos, who skipped past a Costa Rican defenders on the right side, quite a few times, but failed to find the right delivery. At this point ball possession was all Greece but their was no end product, or it didnt seem there would be. And in the 90th minute, exactly like against Cote dIvoire, Greeks score in the dying mins to send the game to extra time. Ball was whipped into the box a snap shot from Grekas was parried by Navas but fell kindly to the feet of Sokratis to fire home. Another ball was played into the box, Greece almost again, stole the winner with a wonderfully whipped in ball met by Mitrogulus shoulder forcing a fantastic save from Navas.

            The script did not change in the Extra time as The Greeks pressed hard for a winner but were just reduced to crosses and Christodoulopoulos continued to torment Junior Diaz. However the lack of imagination made sure that Greece could not unlock Costa Ricas resilient resistance. The second half of Extra Time saw Costa Rica on the end of a few brilliant counter opportunities but broken bodies and tired minds saw it to that they were not capitalised upon. Extra Time ended 1-1 with the game heading to penalties. Greek coach, Santos, was sent to the stands as the spot kicks got underway. The teams were dead even, but Navas stepped forward on the 4th kick for Greece and made a fantastic save, leaving Umana to be the hero. Umana scored the spot kick sending his team into the last 8 in what has been a dream world cup for Costa Rica. 


COSTA RICA: Navas, Gonzalez, Umana, Borges, Duarte, Bolanos (Brenes 83), Campbell, Ruiz, Diaz, Gamboa (Acosta 77), Tejeda (Cubero 66).

GOALS: Ruiz 52.

BOOKINGS: Duarte 42, Tejeda 48, Granados 56, Ruiz 70, Navas 90.

SENT OFF: Duarte 66.

GREECE: Karnezis, Torosidis, Manolas, Sokratis, Holebas, Karagounis, Maniatis (Katsouranis 78), Lazaros, Samaris, Salpingidis (Gekas 69), Samaras (Mitroglou 58).

GOALS: Sokratis 90+1.

BOOKINGS: Samaris 36, Manolas 72.


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