Dale Eve

Associated Press

Costa Rica downs pesky Bermuda 2-1 in Gold Cup

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A hot night in Frisco, Texas saw Costa Rica deal with a pesky but wasteful Bermuda side and secure passage to the Gold Cup knockout stage with a 2-1 win on goals bracketing halftime. Jerseys were soaked through with sweat after just 20 minutes, and the minnows were up to the task but couldn’t finish off their chances and were punished on the other end.

Costa Rica remained in the majority of possession throughout but Bermunda continued to disrupt their early flow, holding the favorites to just one total shot through the first 25 minutes. Bermuda, meanwhile, had a few great opportunities in the opening minutes. They had an early chance on the counter just two minutes in, but Nahki Wells scuffed his shot wide after the Costa Rica defense somehow whiffed on stopping the through ball. Reggie Lambe found himself on the doorstep in the 19th minute after a Wells shot from outside the top of the box was blocked right to Lambe’s feet, but he took too long to get a shot off and put it into Leonel Moreira’s breadbasket.

Costa Rica had its first chance in the 27th minute as Allan Cruz rose high and got his head to an Elias Aguilar cross from deep in the corner, but the effort was right at Bermuda shot-stopper Dale Eve. Bermuda was lucky to keep 11 players on the pitch on the half-hour mark after an ugly tackle by Jaylon Bather who went studs-up high onto the lower leg of Bryan Oviedo. They broke through on a subsequent corner as Mayron George headed home at the back post.

Oscar Duarte came close to a second with another header off a corner 10 minutes later, but he put it just over the bar. Eve was required again just before halftime as he flew through the air to keep out a Celso Borges free-kick effort destined for the top corner. After the break, Costa Rica was bright and found a second as Elias Aguilar bagged his second of the tournament on a simple shot from left side of the box.

Bermuda woke up after the second Costa Rica goal, and a Donte Brangman scorcher from distance forced a save of Moreira on 57 minutes. On the ensuing corner, Borges tripped Jalen Harvey and a penalty was awarded, which Wells blasted down the middle to get Bermuda on the board. Zeiko Lewis had a glorious opportunity to draw level as Lambe fed him through on goal but he couldn’t settle properly and the chance disappeared.

Costa Rica controlled the ball as the game wound down and while Bermuda tested them in spells, they never truly had what it took to equalize. They came closest in the 89th minute on a turn-and-shoot from Wells but he put it wide right. Somehow, Costa Rica failed to find a third with the final kick of the game as George saw his breakaway shot saved by Eve and his follow-up on the doorstep blasted off the underside of the crossbar.

The win for Costa Rica secures a spot in the knockout round, while Bermuda is officially eliminated with no points from their first two games. Nicaragua is also eliminated with the result, and Costa Rica will take on Haiti to determine the group winner in the final match of Group B play on Monday.