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.