Marco Urena Saves Draw for Costa Rica vs. Mexico in 2018 World Cup Qualifier

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistSeptember 6, 2017

Mexico's Andres Guardado (L) and Costa Rica's Bryan Oviedo vie for the ball during their 2018 World Cup qualifier football match in San Jose, on September 5, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Ezequiel BECERRA        (Photo credit should read EZEQUIEL BECERRA/AFP/Getty Images)
EZEQUIEL BECERRA/Getty Images

Mexico and Costa Rica have been the two best teams in the CONCACAF section during World Cup qualifying, and they played out a 1-1 draw Tuesday at Estadio Nacional in San Jose.

Los Ticos missed a chance to clinch a World Cup finals spot with a win on home soil, although they are still in ideal position to do so with just one point required from their final two games after Tuesday's draw.

The point was possible because Marco Urena scored a brilliant goal in the 82nd minute to tie the score after Costa Rica's Cristian Gamboa notched an own goal in the 42nd minute:

The heroics from Urena were nothing new considering he scored two goals against the United States in his side's last matchup.

While the match featured two star goaltenders in Mexico's Guillermo Ochoa and Costa Rica's Keylor Navas, it didn't include the same dire drama as others between teams fighting for their World Cup lives considering their respective positions in the table.

Mexico has already clinched its spot in the World Cup, and Costa Rica now has 15 points and is well clear of Panama's 10 points after their win over Trinidad and Tobago and the nine points of the United States and Honduras after they played to a draw Tuesday.

The top three teams automatically qualify for the finals in Russia, with the fourth-placed side entering a playoff, and Ives Galarcep of Goal USA pointed out how assured Costa Rica is of landing a spot:

The majority of Tuesday's first half was an evenly fought, back-and-forth battle as the talented goaltenders and defenses turned away scoring chances.

However, Mexico broke the deadlock when Giovani Dos Santos had a golden opportunity inside the box to demonstrate his skills. While Navas saved his initial attempt, it deflected off Gamboa and into the back of the net:

The Real Madrid 'keeper was visibly upset, and Jared Wade suggested it was a metaphorical individual play for Los Ticos:

Things became more physical in the second half, as officials handed out yellow cards to Costa Rica's Francisco Calvo and Kendall Waston and Mexico's Jesus Gallardo.

It appeared as if the physical defense and goalkeeping of Ochoa would be enough for Mexico to emerge with a 1-0 victory, but Urena had other ideas down the stretch.

The San Jose Earthquakes man's laser strike from outside the box served as the equalizer and a rare goal against Mexico, as Tom Marshall of ESPN FC noted Costa Rica became just the second team to score against El Tri during the Hex.

Los Ticos earning a draw rather than suffering a loss was appropriate from a statistic considering they controlled 53 percent of the possession and outshot Mexico 15-13, per ESPN FC.

Costa Rica now turns its attention to October and the inevitable World Cup clinch with games against Honduras on Oct. 6 and Panama on Oct. 10. Mexico will finish their campaign with contests against Trinidad and Tobago on Oct. 6 and Honduras on Oct. 10.

Related

    Mourinho Charged for Swearing into TV Cameras

    World Football logo
    World Football

    Mourinho Charged for Swearing into TV Cameras

    Tom Sunderland
    via Bleacher Report

    104 Years of the Great Brazil-Argentina Rivalry

    World Football logo
    World Football

    104 Years of the Great Brazil-Argentina Rivalry

    Goal.com
    via Goal.com

    NBA Is Back and Football Is Watching

    World Football logo
    World Football

    NBA Is Back and Football Is Watching

    B/R Video
    via Bleacher Report

    Report: Barca Distancing from Ronaldinho & Rivaldo Over Political Allegiance

    World Football logo
    World Football

    Report: Barca Distancing from Ronaldinho & Rivaldo Over Political Allegiance

    Gianni Verschueren
    via Bleacher Report