1-0: Costa Rica sneaks into the playoff zone

1-0: Costa Rica sneaks into the playoff zone

With a goal from veteran Celso Borges, the selection of Costa Rica suffered at home by 1-0 to the leader and until this Thursday undefeated Canadaresult with which the Ticos get into the repechage zone on the way to Qatar World Cup 2022.

A header from Celso Borges in the 45th minute was enough for Costa Rica to snatch the unbeaten record from a Canadian team that, despite playing with one man less since the 33rd minute, never gave up and perhaps deserved to take at least one point from the San José National Stadium, which this Thursday was a cauldron with its 35,000 full seats for the first time in the covid-19 pandemic.

With this result and with two days to play, Costa Rica enters the play-off zone with 19 points, behind Canada (25), the United States (22) and Mexico (22), and above Panama (18). El Salvador (10), Jamaica (8) and Honduras (4).

Costa Rica came out with everything in search of the goal, pressured Canada to leave and played better in the first quarter of an hour, but did not find the clarity to overcome the block of three central defenders and two full-backs that the visiting team put up.

Two headers from Francisco Calvo and one from Celso Borges in set pieces were the clearest options available to Costa Rica in the first half hour of play,

Canada settled better on the field after overcoming the initial pressure from the Ticos and began to find spaces for their characteristic vertical attacking game led by the speedy Tajon Buchanan and Richmond Laryea on the wings.

However, the Costa Rican defense behaved up to the task and did not allow chances that put Keylor Navas’ goal at risk.

A hard tackle from Mark Kaye to Ronald Matarrita was reviewed in the VAR by the Honduran judge Said Martínez, who upheld his decision to only show the Canadian midfielder a yellow card, which caused the annoyance of the Costa Rican players. However, a few minutes later, in minute 33, Kaye was sent off after accumulating another yellow card for a foul on Venegas.

In the last play of the first half, Gerson Torres teamed up with Joel Campbell in the area and sent a cross that Celso Borges headed to put the ball out of goalkeeper Milan Borjan’s reach and open the scoring.

Francisco Calvo, from Costa Rica, disputes the ball with Jonathan David, from Canada


In the second half, Canada took command of the game with the outstanding Buchanan and Laryea looking for an equalizer, while Costa Rica looked crouched betting on a counterattack like one that Campbell missed in a one-on-one against the goalkeeper in the 52nd minute.

Stephen Eustaquio came close to giving Canada the equalizer with a cross shot inside the area after a great collective play in the 64th minute, and then it was, in the 73rd, a double shot, the first by Laryea, rejected by Keylor Navas, and another Buchanan’s immediate head, which crashed into the horizontal.

Canada dominated the entire second half as if it hadn’t suffered Kaye’s expulsion, while Costa Rica faded, didn’t have possession of the ball and relied on Keylor Navas’ saves and the solidity of a defense that has not conceded goals in the last 4 knockout games.

On the next day, Costa Rica will visit El Salvador on Sunday, while Canada will host Jamaica.


1 – Costa Rica: Keylor Navas, Keysher Fuller, Francisco Calvo, Kendall Waston, Ronald Matarrita (Juan Pablo Vargas, m.68); Orlando Galo (YeltsinTejeda, m.46), Celso Borges (Daniel Chacón, m.61), Gerson Torres (Bryan Ruiz, m.46); Johan Venegas, Joel Campbell and Anthony Contreras (Alonso Martínez, m.61)
Coach: Luis Fernando Suarez
0 – Canada: Milan Borján; Richmond Laryea, Alistair Johnston (Junior Hoilett, d.64), Kamal Miller, Mark Kaye; Stephen Eustaquio, Atiba Hutchinson, Jonathan Osorio (Ike Ugbo, m.80); Tajon Buchanan, Jonathan David and Cyle Larin (Ismael Kone, m.80).
Coach: John Herdman
Referee: Honduran Said Martínez showed Canadian Kaye two yellow and red cards and admonished Costa Rican Venegas
Goal: 1-0, Celso Borges (d. 45)
Incidents: Match for the twelfth date of the octagonal final of Concacaf towards the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, played at the National Stadium in San José, before 35,000 fans

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