At halftime: Cavani nets penalty for 1-0 Uruguay lead over Costa Rica – FOLLOW LIVE

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Very physical play in the penalty area came back to bite Costa Rica, as they trail Uruguay 1-0 at the halftime break.

Los Ticos were toying with a penalty since the opening whistle, pushing and shoving Uruguayan attackers in the box on a number of occasions before the referee finally gave one in the 24th minute.

Edinson Cavani buried the penalty into the bottom-right corner, and Uruguay eased themselves ahead.

Yeltsin Tejeda was also lucky to not be sent off after an ugly two-footed challenge, further proving their over-enthusiasm coming into this game.

The South Americans looked the more dangerous by far, but Costa Rica wasn’t without chances of their own in a very attacking game.

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24′ – On a free kick into the box, Diego Lugano was taken down in the box rugby-style by Junior Diaz, and the referee awarded a penalty which Cavani slotted neatly into the net for a 1-0 lead.

Other key moments:

15′ – The service from Cristian Rodriguez wasn’t really that good, but a few deflections led to a Diego Godin tap-in that was rightly called back for offside.

16′ – Godin’s goal called back sparked Uruguay, and they had another chance a minute later but Cavani whiffed badly and didn’t even come close on the big opportunity.

22′ – Yeltsin Tejeda went in two feet studs up on Rodriguez, but somehow got away with no card whatsoever.  The Costa Ricans flirted with disaster on a number of occasions with their physical play, but somehow got out of the half with nary a card to their name. The ensuing free kick led directly to Uruguay’s penalty.

27′ – Costa Rica had their best chance yet when Joel Campbell, given plenty of space, took aim and fired from well outside the box, but he just barely missed a wonder strike past the top right corner.

43′ – A Costa Rican corner saw Uruguay’s goalkeeper Fernando Muslera sucked too far in, but the ball fell inches out of reach of Alvaro Gonzalez’s head at the back post.

44′ – Uruguay pushed down the other end, and Diego Forlan nearly picked himself out a spectacular chipped goal, but Keylor Navas tracked back and leaped to save the ball bound for the corner.


Uruguay – Muslera; Pereira, Lugano, Godin, Canaceres; Gargano, Arevalo, Rodriguez, Stuani; Forlan, Cavani.

Goals: Cavani 24′

Costa Rica – Navas; Duarte, Umana, Gamboa, Gonzalez, Diaz; Borges, Tejada; Ruiz, Campbell, Bolanos.

Questions for the second half:

  • Will Costa Rica put together a sustained attack? Trailing by 1, they’re not out of this match by any means, but in order to have a serious chance at leveling they need to build a solid attack, which they’ve been unable to do. There have been a fair amount of bright moments, but nothing more.
  • Can Uruguay put the game away? Despite their dominance on the base level, they’ve held just 50% of possession and Costa Rica has held their fair share of half-chances. Can the South Americans double their lead? The longer this match stays at 1-0 the more the confidence of Los Ticos will rise.

Zlatan confirms Manchester United departure

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic has confirmed myriad reports he’s leaving Manchester United with a perfectly-Zlatan Instagram message.

Ibrahimovic is expected to join the LA Galaxy next week.

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The words aren’t too important, but Ibrahimovic posted an old graphic of him in Greek god garb, arm-wrestling a devil. So he’s got that going for him, which is nice.

The living Swedish legend, 36, has been limited to seven appearances, one start, and one goal in returning from a season-ending knee injury, but finishes his Manchester United tenure with an impressive 29 goals and 10 assists in 53 games (deduct the seven and one for peak impressiveness).

Bale breaks Wales scoring record

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Gareth Bale has now unquestionably written his name into Wales history.

The 28-year-old Real Madrid scored a hat-trick for Wales in its 6-0 demolition of China, taking his overall tally to 29 goals, breaking Ian Rush’s record.

“It is right up there, maybe as the best,” Bale told reporters after the game. “I suppose when I was a little boy I never dreamed of being a record-breaker for Wales. It is a massive honor. I was not thinking about it, but now it has come it’s an incredible honor and one of the best things I’ve achieved in my career. On a personal note it’s great to break the record, but I could not have done it without my team-mates.”

Bale was unable to carry Wales to the 2018 World Cup, but he first became a National Team legend by helping take Wales to the Euro 2016 semifinals, scoring three goals along the way.

Here’s a look at Bale’s record-breaking goal.

Sporting KC giving away creative “Bike Opara” bobblehead

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In his ninth Major League Soccer season, Ike Opara has scored just a dozen regular season goals.

He’s known more for his physicality in the backline, for creating space for teammates on set pieces, or heading balls on to teammates with slightly more fleeter feet.

But in June 2017, it all came together for Opara in a magical moment, where he beat an offside trap from the LA Galaxy and scored an insane bicycle kick for Sporting Kansas City.

Now, to honor Opara’s ridiculous goal, Sporting KC has announced the first 10,000 fans through the gates at Children’s Mercy Park on March 31 will get a “Bike Ike” bobblehead, with him in flight kicking the ball towards goal over his shoulder.

You’ve gotta love the creativity and fun the Sporting KC marketing department is having. Hopefully, Opara can give the team another memorable goal in 2018.

Van Dijk named new Netherlands captain

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Virgil Van Dijk has had a pretty decent last three months since moving to Liverpool, and the towering defender earned a new personal achievement on Thursday.

Van Dijk was named the newest captain of the Netherlands National Team, where he’ll play under former manager Ronald Koeman. Van Dijk’s first game as captain will be against the nation where he currently plies his trade, England, on Friday.

“I am very happy with it, it is a great honor to be the captain of your country,” van Dijk said at a pre-match press conference Thursday. “Everyone knows that Koeman gave me the chance at Southampton, I am very grateful to him. This is very special.”

Van Dijk’s commanding presence in the Liverpool backline and previous stops at Southampton and Celtic make him an obvious choice for captain, taking the place of the now-retired Arjen Robben. At just 26-years old, van Dijk could carry the armband for a half dozen years if he keeps up his strong form.