Recife, 30 June-2014, Outlook: 10-man Costa Rica beat Greece 5-3 on penalties after an epic battle to set up a quarterfinal clash with the Netherlands, who edged out Mexico 2-1 in their last-16 match of the FIFA World Cup.
Greece, playing their first ever game in the knockout stages of the World Cup, could have gone ahead in the 37th minute when Dimitrios Salpingidis almost sent Jose Holebas’ cross home but goalkeeper Keylor Navas stuck his leg out in time to make a good save.
Costa Rica too had a chance to go one-up when Christian Bolanos penetrated the left side of the penalty area in the eighth minute but his shot went over the crossbar.
Costa Rica, who stunned Uruguay and Italy before drawing with England to finish on top of Group D, were down to 10 men in the 66th minute after Oscar Duarte was sent off for a second yellow.
Desperate for the equaliser, Greek coach Fernando Santos made a few substitutions, one of them was replacing Salpingidis with Theofanis Gekas. The experienced striker got into action soon when he tried to steer a low cross from Holebas but Michael Umana made a important block.
Greece created an opportunity in the 88th minute when Lazaros Christodoulopoulos ran in from the right but goalkeeper Navas was up for it.
Sokratis Papastathopoulos finally fired in the equaliser for Greece in the second minute of stoppage time when the centre back found the back of the net on the rebound after goalkeeper Navas had initially palmed away Gekas’ effort successfully from close range.
The two teams, however, could not be separated even in extra time and finally Costa Rica sealed their maiden quarterfinal berth when Michael Umana converted his team’s fifth penalty after Fanis Gekas missed Greece’s fourth at Arena Pernambuco.
Celso Borges, Bryan Ruiz, Giancarlo Gonzalez, Joel Campbell and Umana converted all five penalties for Costa Rica, while Konstantinos Mitroglou, Lazaros Christodoulopoulos and Jose Holebas scored for Greece before Costa Rican goalkeeper Navas made a brilliant save of Theofanis Gekas’ shot.
Costa Rican players broke into a dance amid cheering from their fans but the Greeks were left teary-eyed following their exit from the World Cup.