Costa Rica manager Paulo Wanchope reacts to last-minute loss vs. Mexico in Gold Cup quarters

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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — A poor decision by the referee in the 120th minute ended Costa Rica’s run at the Gold Cup.

Roy Miller was called for the “foul” after “pushing” Oribe Peralta with just seconds remaining in the match, and Andres Guardado converted the ensuing penalty to lead El Tri through and eliminate Costa Rica.

[ RECAP: Mexico 1-0 Costa Rica ]

After the penalty was awarded, Costa Rican players swarmed the referee and his assistant, furious with the call that replays showed was suspect to say the least. Wanchope’s side had held on for two hours and looked to shock Mexico in the penalty shootout, but they were never awarded that opportunity.

In the post game press conference, Wanchope eluded to the penalty call, but refused to blame the loss on that call alone.

I was worried with the background of the referee. Things in football are like this; he is human. He saw something in the area and that’s why he called the penalty.

Today we played to the limit and we competed intensely. I am not creating any speculation; I am hurt and I think the players are hurt. But we are not making excuses, we are out and now we will go into the future.

Wanchope served as interim manager before being named official manager in January. With a disappointing showing in his first major tournament in charge, Wanchope said he was not worried about the possibility of being sacked.

[ RELATED: Three things we learned from Mexico’s controversial win over Costa Rica ]

With their Gold Cup run now over, the next big matches for Costa Rica will come in November when World Cup qualifiers begin. Wanchope said this loss tonight will help his team learn and develop, and that this tournament was just a stepping stone for Russia 2018.