By Robbie Blakeley, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Costa Rica beat Greece 5-3 on penalties to make it through to the quarter-finals of the World Cup for this first time in their history at the Arena Pernambuco tonight. With the sides tied at 1-1 after 120 minutes of football, the two teams needed to be separated by spot kicks, with emotional scenes at the end as players, coaching staff and fans were in tears at the Central Americans’ tremendous achievement.
The first half was tense and became bogged down in midfield. Neither side managed to create a series of clear cut chances or dominate proceedings, but the match burst into life after the half-time interval.
Bryan Ruiz had put Costa Rica ahead after 52 minutes with a low shot from the edge of the penalty area, actually mis-hitting the ball to completely confuse the Greek goalkeeper Karnezis. Yet they were dealt a severe blow on 66 minutes when central defender Oscar Duarte was sent off for a second bookable offense.
With a one man advantage Greece began to play on the front foot as they went in search of an equalizer, and it came with almost the last kick of normal time. Sokratis poked the ball home from close range after Costa Rica goalkeeper Navas could only parry a shot. Mitroglu went close to winning the game for the Europeans in extra-time but Costa Rica hung on grimly.
All players scored from the spot until Gekas stepped up for Greece. Hitting his effort to the goalkeeper’s right at a comfortable height, Navas managed to block the shot. The side will now play Holland on Saturday, July 5th, at the Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador.
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