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Costa Rica says coach out after disappointing World Cup

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SAN JOSE, Costa Rica (AP) The Costa Rica soccer federation says national team coach Oscar Ramirez is out after the team’s disappointing performance at the World Cup.

Federation president Rodolfo Villalobos said Wednesday that Ramirez’s contract has run out and won’t be renewed. Costa Rica compiled a record of 9 wins, 6 ties and 4 defeats in 16 qualifying and three World Cup matches under Ramirez.

Villalobos thanked the coach but said that “it is not convenient for him to remain.” He did not name a potential replacement, but said the federation is looking at a long list of candidates.

Costa Rica was the surprise of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, reaching the quarterfinals. But the team was knocked out in the group stage in Russia, losing to Brazil and Serbia and tying Switzerland.

Bizarre must-see penalty levels Costa Rica, Switzerland

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A wild finish in Nizhny Novgorod saw Costa Rica come back to draw Switzerland 2-2, though the Swiss are the second-place side to move into the Round of 16.

Switzerland led through ex-Montreal Impact midfielder Blerim Dzemaili and later Josip Drmic, but Vancouver Whitecaps defender Kendall Waston and ex-Fulham man Bryan Ruiz found equalizers.

Ruiz’s goal was especially wild, his PK bounding off the bar but hitting the Swiss goalkeeper for what will absurdly be recorded as an own goal.

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Dzemaili’s goal came when Breel Embolo leapt to knock down Stephan Lichtsteiner’s cross back toward the top of the six.

The knockdown could hardly have found Dzemaili in a more favorable position.

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It was Whitecaps stalwart Waston who restored the deadlock off a 56th minute set piece.

MLS defenses have seen this before…

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Switzerland went ahead through Drmic, and then almost gave the lead right back. A penalty was awarded to Costa Rica’s Bryan Ruiz, but the ex-Fulham man was found offside via VAR.

No matter, Costa Rica got its penalty late, and converted it in… unusual fashion. Joel Campbell’s effort won the PK, and Ruiz’s shot hit the bar, then Swiss goalkeeper Jan Sommer’s head to make it 2-2.

Coutinho saves Brazil from Neymar’s VAR humiliation

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Dominant Brazil needed stoppage time to find a way past Costa Rican backstop Keylor Navas and pick up a 2-0 win in Saint Petersburg on Friday.

Neymar embarrassingly saw an awarded penalty overturned when he flopped instead of shooting following a tug from Giancarlo Gonzalez, but Philippe Coutinho toe-poked a shot through Navas’ legs in the first of six stoppage time minutes.

Neymar would later add a goal in the sixth minute of stoppage time from Douglas Costa.

Brazil finishes the group stage with Serbia, while Costa Rica waits on Switzerland.

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Brazil controlled the first 12 minutes of the match, but Costa Rica just missed a bid to make it 1-0 against the run of play.

Deportivo La Coruña midfielder Celso Borges darted into the box to drag a low shot just wide of the far post.

Gabriel Jesus had the ball in the back of the goal in the 26th minute, but was deemed offside. And Keylor Navas stymied another Brazil rush a minute later.

But Costa Rica’s packed-in camp held Brazil at bay into the break.

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Brazil fired out of the gates to start the second half, and Navas was again busy as Neymar clattered into him in search of a loose ball. Well, kinda loose.

When Philippe Coutinho’s hammered shot was blocked out for a corner, it simultaneously felt like Brazil’s goal was either inevitable or destined to not arrive.

Navas then pushed a Neymar point-blank bid over the bar.

Tite opted to bring on Roberto Firmino, but Navas kept up his heroics by collecting a header off another Brazil corner.

The possibility of a scoreless draw felt even more likely when Neymar stole the ball and whipped a 21-yard shot just off the upper 90.

Neymar looked to have a won a penalty kick when Gonzalez tugged him in the six, but VAR overturned the call.

WATCH: World Cup, Day 9 — Iceland’s next step, Brazilian bounce back?

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Brazil is one of the favorites of the 2018 World Cup, while Iceland is the smallest nation to qualify for the world’s biggest tournament.

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On Friday, both enter their second match days feeling quite different after 1-1 draws.

They won’t face each other, of course, but the contrast is striking nevertheless.

Brazil opens the day’s action when it squares off with Costa Rica, who fell to Serbia in the opener. For Serbia, a dark horse of the tournament, it will be a meeting with Switzerland.

Then there’s Iceland’s bid to climb into the Group D driver’s seat by knocking off Nigeria. A win from Iceland would make Lionel Messi and Argentina’s task of qualifying for the knockout rounds extremely unlikely.

Below is Friday’s schedule in full.

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2018 World Cup schedule – Wednesday, June 20

Group D
Nigeria vs. Iceland: Volgograd, 11 a.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE

Group E
Brazil vs. Costa Rica: Saint Petersburg, 8 a.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE
Serbia vs. Switzerland: Kaliningrad, 2 p.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE

Kolarov blast guides Serbia past Costa Rica

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Group E opened up on Sunday with a thrilling match in Samara, where Serbia topped Costa Rica, 1-0.

It looked as if Keylor Navas wouldn’t be beat on the day, however, Aleksandar Kolarov had other ideas with his sublime free kick 11 minutes into the second half.

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It took the Serbia goal to really spark life out of the Costa Rica attack, however, the Europeans held strong and remained compact defensively to keep the Ticos off the scoreboard.

Aleksandar Mitrovic nearly gave Serbia a second finish in the final moments of the match, after Sergej Malinkovic-Savic picked out an ideal through ball to his teammate, who couldn’t find a shot on target.

Both sides struggled to find a rhythm in the opening half, despite Serbia’s dictation of pace with their strong midfield.

Mitrovic boasted the lone shot on target for the European nation, when he tested Keylor Navas in the 13th minute, while Los Ticos had a quality chance of their own a minute prior through a Giancarlo Gonzalez header from close range.

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Mitrovic was stopped again by Navas in the 50th minute after the Fulham striker found himself one-on-one with the Real Madrid keeper.

The Ticos will return to group action on June 22 against favorites Brazil, while Serbia will meet fellow European side Switzerland the same day.