Costa Rica caused a huge stir when taking the scalp of Uruguay 3-1 in their World Cup Group D opener on Saturday evening.
Uruguay arrived in Brazil with high hopes of progressing deep into the tournament, but they were undone by a vibrant Costa Rica side.
It all looked good for Uruguay when Edinson Cavani fired them in front from the penalty spot, but second-half goals from Joel Campbell, Oscar Duarte and Marcos Urena handed the three points to Costa Rica.
The game took time to take shape, with both sides feeling for an opening, but within 15 minutes Uruguay had the ball in the net. However, Diego Godin’s celebrations were cut short by an offside flag which replays proved to be correct.
With Luis Suarez on the bench, Cavani was the main attacking threat for Uruguay. He had a huge chance to open the scoring on 16 minutes, when a loose ball dropped to him in space in the box.
Cavani was in so much space he had the opportunity to take the ball down, but he elected to shoot first this time and his volley flew well wide.
Uruguay kept probing and the physical threat of Diego Lugano in the box proved too much for Junior Diaz, who hauled down the defender—which resulted in referee Felix Brych pointing to the spot.
The Costa Rica protests were lengthy, but to no avail. The delay did not put off Cavani, who stepped up and stroked his spot kick low to the left of the keeper.
Uruguay came close to doubling their advantage on near half-time, as Diego Forlan’s shot took a wicked deflection and flew towards the top corner.
With the ball looping over his head, Costa Rica keeper Keylor Navas adjusted his position and stretched backwards to tip the ball over the top.
Keylor Navas. Been fantastic all season. Between him and Thibaut Courtois for best keeper in La Liga.— Graham Ruthven (@grahamruthven) June 14, 2014
Costa Rica had a huge chance to draw level on 50 minutes, as Duarte rose unmarked in the box. His header lacked conviction and was parried by Fernando Muslera. The rebound fell back to Duarte but he miscued and the chance went begging.
Uruguay’s lead was snuffed out on 55 minutes. It was Campbell who drew Costa Rica level with a composed finish after a fine piece of control.
Just a couple of minutes later, the contest was turned on its head. Uruguay did not learn from earlier in the half when Duarte got free, as the defender got beyond his marker for the second time in the match. Unlike the previous chance, Duarte met the ball with purpose and powered a header beyond Muslera.
Arsenal have a potential diamond on their hands in Campbell. Just past the hour he once again went for the audacious from long range, with his effort flying a foot wide with Muslera beaten.
Suarez took a jog down the touchline, which raised the prospect of him making an appearance a matter of weeks after undergoing a knee operation, but he retreated back to the dugout and remained there for the duration of the match.
In his absence, Uruguay looked bereft of any attacking threat and they were caught on the break as Costa Rica sealed the win.
Campbell was the shining light for Costa Rica and he slipped a superb ball into substitute Urena who dinked the ball beyond Muslera.
Uruguay's misery was compounded when Maximiliano Pereira was shown a straight red card in injury time for a wild hack at Campbell.
Uruguay will bid to get their campaign back on track against England on June 19. Whether Suarez takes his place in the side remains to be seen, but he surely cannot be fit after remaining on the bench with his side on the back foot.
For Costa Rica, they will tackle Italy a day later, knowing a win will give them a huge chance of making it to the knockout stages.
Note: Ratings based on a 1-10 scale with 1 being the worst and 10 the best.
|Uruguay Player Ratings|
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|Costa Rica Player Ratings|
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Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez had words of praise for Costa Rica and is aware of the huge challenge ahead against England.
"I don’t know what Costa Rica’s limit is, but today they played well," Tabarez said. "They were tactically better than us, which reflects well on their coach and players. When they took the lead, they gave us space and let us play where we couldn’t do them any harm.
"Now we’re going to try and get back on track against England."