Costa Rica beat Greece in a penalty shootout yesterday to reach the World Cup quarter-finals for the first time after defending with ten men for nearly an hour. Michael Umana scored the decisive penalty as Costa Rica won the shootout 5-3 after the game ended 1-1 following extra time.
Greece’s Theofanis Gekas saw his penalty saved by Costa Rica goalkeeper Keylor Navas for the only miss in the shootout. Costa Rica will play the Netherlands in the quarter-finals. ‘Los Ticos’ had taken the lead early in the second half through captain Bryan Ruiz but then had defender Oscar Duarte sent off in the 66th minute with a second yellow card for a mistimed tackle on Jose Holebas.
The red card changed the game at Arena Pernambuco and Greece poured forward for most of the remainder of the match. The Greeks equalised in injury time when defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos smashed in a rebound to finally make the team’s numerical advantage pay.
Greece continued to storm forward in extra time but couldn’t find a way past Navas, who made the victory-clinching save in the shootout after saving his team for most of the match with a succession of last-gasp stops. The victory delighted the majority of the just over 41,000 fans in Recife as the Brazilian locals shouted for Costa Rica throughout the round-of-16 game.
While the Costa Rican team made World Cup history for its small Central American nation, it also ended Greece’s best-ever run. Greece was playing in the second round for the first time. After a scoreless first half, Ruiz slid his low shot into the right corner of Greece’s goal for the lead after a pull-back by winger Christian Bolanos from the left.
Duarte made a clumsy challenge on Holebas, however, and Costa Rica reverted to all-out defense to try and hang on for the win. They nearly did it, but yet another save from Navas fell to Papastathopoulos in the first minute of injury time and he powered his shot home to give Greece hope.