Ten-man Costa Rica beat Greece on penalties to reach last eight in Brazil World Cup
RECIFE, Brazil, June 29 (Xinhua/Sun) -- After been reduced to 10 men for some 60 minutes, Costa Rica beat Greece 5-3 (1-1) on penalties here on Sunday to enter World Cup quarterfinals for the first time in the country's history.
Costa Rica, known as the Ticos, were 5 on 5 in penalty kick while Greek veteran striker Theofanis Gekas's fourth round effort was denied by keeper Keilor Navas.
The first half was dull and slow and full of turnovers with lackluster performance from both sides. The Arena Pemambuco was surrounded by boos from the stands, when the referee Benjamin Willianms blew the whistle to end the first half. But the second was filled with drama.
The Ticos skipper Bryan Ruiz met a low cross from Christian Bolanos at the edge of the box in the 52nd minute. The 28-year-old, who was on loan in PSV Eindhoven from English Championship club Fulham, failed to shoot with his full strength but the ball simple dribbled into the side netting with Greek keeper Orestis Karnezis misjudging the trajectory of the ball and not making a save.
It was the second goal for Ruiz in the tournament as he also scored the winner in the 1-0 victory against Italy in the second round group match also in Recife last Friday.
The Ticos were reduced to ten men in the 66th minute. Defender Oscar Duarte received his second booking of the match after a careless tackle on Cholevas.
Costa Rica were under great pressure for the following 30 minutes. And the Greeks managed to score in injury time again.
Central defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos from Bundesliga club Borussia Dortmund, who stayed up front after a late run into the box, nodded down a lofted ball to second half substitute Gekas. The latter's powerful shot was denied by Navas but Papastathopoulos followed up and lashed home the rebounded ball.
The Greeks could have finished the match in regular time but Konstantinos Mitroglou's header from close range was palmed away by Navas.
After the 90-minute of play ended at 1-1, neither team managed to score again in extra time and had to decide the match through penalty kick. The 26-year-old Mitroglou missed another chance in the dying minutes of the extra time as his close range snap shot was again stopped by Navas.
It is the fourth time for Los Ticos to compete in the World Cup finals. They enjoyed a wonderful debut in 1994 when they, led by the vast-experienced coach Bora Milutinovic, beat Sweden and Scotland to reach the knockout rounds but failed to make it to the quarterfinal after lost to Czechoslovakia. In 2002 and 2006 World Cups Costa Rico never managed to emerge from the group stage.
In the quarterfinals, Costa Rica will be facing the Netherlands who rallied to beat Mexico in Fortaleza on Sunday.