Gold Cup 2013 Results: Biggest Takeaways from Costa Rica's Victory Over Cuba
Costa Rica got the best of Cuba on Tuesday in Portland with a 3-0 victory in the 2013 Gold Cup.
The Costa Ricans started off slow but kicked it into another gear in the second half, as the Cubans failed to ever present much danger in the match.
If Costa Rica can play more like it did in the second half moving forward, the side stands a much better chance of advancing past the group stage.
Here's a look at the biggest takeaways from Tuesday's matchup.
Costa Rica Can Turn a Switch
Costa Rica was in more danger than Cuba in a sloppy first half on Tuesday. While the Costa Ricans held the ball for 65 percent of the half, they allowed Cuba plenty of space near the net and were lucky a few shots didn't ring home.
While Cuba was still given some opportunities to score in the second half (mostly outside the box), Costa Rica did pick up its play offensively, scoring all three of its goals after halftime. Michael Barrantes led the charge with two goals, while Jairo Arrieta added another one.
Costa Rica finished with 15 shots (six on goal) after a dismal first half, per ESPNFC.com. The Costa Ricans controlled possession for 68 percent of the match.
While the Costa Rican defense still has some work to do, the offense showed on Tuesday that it can convert when given the opportunity.
Keep Cuba Outside the Box
Obviously, you always want to keep a team as far away from the net as possible. Costa Rica even gave Cuba some space outside the box to potentially knock home a long goal, but Cuba misfired on several occasions, often high.
While Cuba's attempts in the first half appeared to be a result of sloppy defensive play by Costa Rica, Costa Rica appeared to practically be daring Cuba to score a goal from outside in the second half.
The Cubans ultimately weren't able to make the Costa Ricans pay, getting off 18 shots but only three on goal. Costa Rica goalkeeper Patrick Pemberton didn't exactly have to work very hard.
Michael Barrantes Came to Play
Michael Barrantes hadn't scored in nine World Cup qualifying matches for Costa Rica leading up to the Gold Cup and had posted a ho-hum two assists.
But the 29-year-old midfielder exploded in the second half on Tuesday, scoring two goals and helping lift Costa Rica to victory over Cuba. After the half, he scored right away in the 51st minute and followed with the dagger in the 77th minute.
Barrantes' first goal was a beauty, per Fox Soccer:
GOAL Costa Rica! Barrantes gives his side a 1-0 lead over Cuba. See it: - http://t.co/HSL4OFsaPU— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) July 10, 2013
The Costa Ricans would love to see Barrantes continue to be productive, especially when the side faces USA in the tournament on July 16.
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