Costa Rica beat Greece in penalties, and advance to the quarterfinals for the first time in World Cup history

The Ticos celebrate after Michael Umaña scored the wining penalty kick that defeated Greece, and sent them to the quarterfinals for the first time in Costa Rica history, on Monday at Recife.BBC

The Ticos celebrate after Michael Umaña scored the wining penalty kick that defeated Greece, and sent them to the quarterfinals for the first time in Costa Rica history, on Monday at Recife.

Round of 16

The Ticos came into this game as heavy favorites to advance, they took the early 1-0 lead but after a player got a a red card the boat was rocked when Greece tied the game at the 90 minute 1-1. However, their destiny for making history would not be denied as they would win 5-3 in penalties. 

Byline: Jorge Belon, Editor in Chief

RECIFE– Michael Umaña was the man that delivered Costa Rica to the quarterfinals for the first time in history, by scoring the last penalty kick on Sunday night to defeat the Greeks.

“There are no secrets. There are 25 of us, including the two guys who are injured but are here with us,” Costa Rican goalie Keylor Navas told FIFA.com after the historical victory. “We play from the bottom of our hearts, for our country. We’ve always wanted to make history and you could see that here.”

The first three players from both teams made their penalties, the fourth penalty for the Ticos was taken by Joel Campbell, he placed the at the right hand corner of the net, without showing any fatigue. The fourth person stepped up for Greece, Theofanis Gekas, he placed the ball to the right hand side of the goal, but Navas was there to stop it and set up Umaña to be the hero for Costa Rica if he made his penalty.

Umaña stepped up, and took a long deep breath and then took his steps towards the ball, and blasted the ball into top left hand corner of the net to send Costa Rica to the quarterfinals with 5-3 victory in penalties.

“All I did was react and keep it out,” Navas told FIFA.com after the match. “You can practice penalties and study what the takers do, but I have to hand it to my team-mates, who were 100 percent on target. We’re making history and we want to have a place in people’s hearts forever.”

However, the first 45 minutes went wasted, as both teams seemed more frighten to make a mistake then to take a chance. The second half the game came to life, as the Ticos Captain Bryan Ruiz would give the Central American nation the lead at the 52 minute. Midfielder Cristian Bolaños was standing on the left hand side of the field, right outside the penalty box. The Greeks had given the speedy Costa Rican time with the ball, and he was searching through out the area who to give the ball to.

He found a cutting Ruiz getting near the top of the box. Bolaños immediately centered the ball to Ruiz, and the captain took the shot right away, wasting no time. The shot Ruiz took was a weak one that rolled through the heart of the penalty box, but he perfectly placed the ball deep into the right hand corner of the net, the accurate finesse goal that left Greek goalie frozen in his tracks would give the Ticos the 1-0 lead.

Costa Rica looked well on their way to controlling the game. However, at the 65 minute Nicaragua native Oscar Duarte committed a reckless foul by sliding into a challenge with both legs, a very small chance of getting the ball,  and already on yellow card. When he brought down the Greek player the referee blew he whistle and Duarte knew his marching orders had arrived.

After the Central Americans went down to 10 men, the Greek offense began to come alive and they started to push for the equalizer to keep their World Cup dreams alive. The Greeks were getting close, but time was running out on them.

The Ticos were just hold on with every bit of energy they had. Greece was on the attack for the last time of the game, substitute forward Theofanis Gekas received a ball in the heart of the box, his back was towards the goal. He then quickly turned with the ball and fired the a hard shot, but Navas was there to stop it.

The shot had to much power for Navas to control, so the ball bounced right in front Greek player. Defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos was there to put the ball into the back of the net and tie the game 1-1, at the 90 minute.

In extra time the Greeks had chances to win the game late in the second period of overtime, but Navas was there to deny them multiple times, and set up the penalties for both teams.  Where the Ticos would come out ahead after five penalties and one saved shot from Navas again.

“This is a big, big result. Words can’t describe how I feel right now,” Costa Rica Coach Jorge Luis Pinto told FIFA.com. “It’s never easy playing with ten men, and even less so against opponents like that in a World Cup match. We looked secure throughout the game, and we were full of confidence in the shoot-out, and that goes for the goalkeeper, who was amazing, and the penalty takers, who were just perfect.”

The Ticos will now be facing the Netherlands in the quarterfinals on Saturday, July 5 at Salvador. This dutch team barely escaped another CONCACAF team in their round 16 match, the Ticos will be looking to continue their historical run and complete the job that Mexico almost did. As for the Greeks their World Cup is over, but they can hold their heads high since no one gave them a chance to get out of the group stages.

highlights to this video can be seen on this link http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=intl:1922645, video provided by ESPN FC.

editorinchief@lavalleystar.com

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