Greece suffered a heartbreaking loss in a 5-3 penalty shootout to Costa Rica after a late comeback, but Greek manager Fernando Santos lost his cool before his side's fate was even decided.
After appearing to argue with referee Benjamin Williams after the 120th minute concluded, he was sent off before the shootout began—leaving Greece without their manager for the fateful penalty kicks that led to their exit.
BBC Sport reported the news as it happened:
Tancredi Palmeri of beIN Sports noted that his absence may have been decisive, as the match was heading to penalties and he wasn't there to decide the Greek kick-takers:
Greek manager sent off before penalties??? Never seen that before. And bigger blow than you could think— Tancredi Palmeri (@tancredipalmeri) June 29, 2014
Greece and Costa Rica went down to the wire with a quarterfinal meeting against the Netherlands on the line, and the match spanned the entire 120 minutes.
The match was filled with emotions as is any knockout-stage affair, but things really picked up in the 66th minute when Costa Rica's Oscar Duarte was sent off after his second yellow card of the game. At the time, Greece trailed 1-0 from Bryan Ruiz's 52nd-minute goal.
But the sending off revitalized the Greeks, who scored in extra time just as they did against the Ivory Coast in the group stage to get to this match. In the 91st minute, Sokratis Papastathopoulos finished a rebound to equalize and send things to extra time.
Was Santos' sending off justified?
After Greece passed up chance after chance to net a game-winner, the whistle blew after 120 minutes and the Costa Ricans had held on into penalties. And apparently, Santos wasn't happy about something.
It only adds insult to injury for Santos that his side was eliminated minutes after his sending off. The Greeks were in control for the last half of the match and squandered endless chances to beat the 10-men Costa Rican side.
Santos' actions at the end of Sunday's match could be the last chapter of his time with the national team. CNN's Isa Soares reported that his contract is set to expire Monday.
In any case, this is not the way Santos or his squad hoped their World Cup run would end. This loss will leave a sour taste for quite some time, especially for Santos in light of his sending off.