Ten-man Costa Rica stun Greece in penalty shoot-out
By Justin Davis ,AFP
July 1, 2014, 12:01 am TWN
RECIFE, Brazil -- Costa Rica goalkeeper Keylor Navas claimed man-of-the match honors as his side sank Greece in a penalty shootout to reach the World Cup quarter finals for the first time and a clash with the Netherlands.
Reduced to 10 men in the second half, Costa Rica still seemed to be on course for an upset victory until Sokratis Papastathopoulos scored an injury-time equalizer to force extra time.
Navas, who had blocked a string of shots in the game, was equally impressive in the two 15-minute periods of extra time before he pulled off a superb one-handed save to deny Theofanis Gekas' spot kick during the penalty shoot-out.
Costa Rica went on to secure a 5-3 victory to keep the Central Americans' World Cup dream alive.
“To everyone back home and out on the streets — this is for you,” said Costa Rica's manager Jorge Luis Pinto.
“The people love football and they deserve this. We're ambitious, we want to grow and develop and God willing we will go on in this tournament.”
Captain Bryan Ruiz scored in the 52nd minute to give the Central Americans a 1-0 lead at Arena Pernambuco.
But defender Oscar Duarte was ordered off for a second bookable offence shortly after and Greece poured forward looking for an equalizer.
They provided the late drama when Papastathopoulos pounced on the rebound from Gekas's strike in the first minute of added-on time to slam it past Navas.
But it was the only shot the Costa Rica goalkeeper missed all night and he was overwhelmingly voted man of the match.
“He's an extraordinary 'keeper and I think he's shown he's one of the best at the World Cup,” said Pinto.
Those thoughts were shared by Greece coach Fernando Santos: “The goalkeeper made the difference for them. He denied us right at the end of extra time, then again in the shoot-out.
“If it wasn't for him the result would have been different story.”
Greece spurned several chances to win the game in extra time against the tiring Costa Ricans. Those misses proved costly for Fernando Santos's men in the penalty shoot-out.