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Navas wins it for Costa Rica

Costa Rica, another sensational team in this World Cup of surprises faces Greece, who sneaked into the second round at the expense of Côte d’Ivoire. Costa Rica will look to build on their resolute defence and stretch the Greece side with their exciting forwards Campbell and Ruiz.

Georgios Samaras is fouled in the first minute and Karagounis’ free kick headed away by Ruiz, with the rebound going over. Samaris’ misplaced pass releases Campbell but Karagounis did well to recover the ball. Ruiz releases Bolanos on the 7th minute but his shot flew over. At the other end Lazaros went wide after fine work from the left.

Lazaros releases Samaras, but his cross into the box was cleared by Umana for a corner. Campbell dashes into the box after a fine play but Holebas intercepts the move. Costa Rica is looking the more threatening of the two sides and working hard to bring the game into life. Campbell is bundled down outside the box by Karagounis and the free kick is headed wide.

Karagounis’ shot on the 27th minute was well saved by Navas as Greece valiantly contain Costa Rica and look to exploit set pieces. Against the run of play, Salpingidis was poised to slot home from a Holebas cross on the 37th minute, but Navas dashes out and saves. Duarte stops Lazaros just outside the box and receives a caution, setting up a free kick in a good position for Greece. Karagounis’ kick was however calmly picked up by the impressive Navas. The first half ended with boos ringing out in the stadium after a disappointing 45 minutes.

The second half started with Greece looking more lively. Navas saves from a Samaras header and Tejeda receives a caution for a lunge on Karagounis. The goal came on the 52nd minute when Campbell released Bolanos on the left and his fine cross was slotted in superbly by Ruiz. A handball in the Greece box by Torosidis was missed by the referee as Greece came under sustained attack. Mitroglou was brought on for Samaris as Greece seeks to regain their composure.

Cubero comes on for the cautioned Tejeda on the 66th minute. Duarte’s tackle on Holebas earns him a second yellow and a red, giving Greece a one man advantage. Greece brought on Gekas for Salpingidis as they push to get back in the game. Ruiz receives a caution as Samaras continues to threaten, but Navas saves under pressure.

Manolas is cautioned for a foul on Campbell but Bolanos’ free kick was cleared. Samaras again threaten but Gekas pushes the cross out for a goal kick. Gamboa is brought off for Acosta on the 77th minute as Costa Rica looks to hold on to their lead. Greece brings off Maniatis for Katsouranis on the 78th minute, as they seek a way back into the game. Karagounis shoots high and over the bar from a free kick after he had been fouled.

Greece gets another free kick but Manolas heads over as Bolanos is replaced by Brenes. Greece is creating chances but their poor finishing is letting them down. Lazaros works his way into the box but Navas did well to save. Navas picks up a yellow for time wasting as Costa Rica draws from their reserves to hold off Greece. The ball is lobbed into the box and Navas saves from a Gekas shot but Sokrates fires home the rebound for the equaliser, right in injury time. Torosidis heads in on goal but Navas pulls off a save, injuring himself in the process. Full time scores; Costa Rica 1: Greece 1. Greece gets a last minute equaliser to stretch the game into extra time.

Torosidis’ shot cum cross was saved by Navas as Greece continued their dominance at the start of extra time. A fine cross from the right meets mitroglou and inadvertently hits Gekas on the head to go off. A scramble inside the box was cleared by Gonzalez to deny the lurking Katsouranis. An unusual attack by Costa Rica saw Brenes cross into the box, but the Greece defence held firm and cleared.

The second half of extra time resumed with Greece sustaining the pressure on a tired and outnumbered Costa Rica. A fine pass from deep finds Gekas but Navas dashes out and saves. Campbell did well to win a free kick but Costa Rica could not take advantage. In a fine individual effort, Cubero pulls in for Campbell but the Greece defence clears. On the counter, Greece attacked with pace but Lazaros’ effort was saved by Navas. Navas saves again from a Samaras looped ball. The game looked set to be decided by penalties as the clock ticked down. A final push by Greece earns them a corner but Costa Rica does well to clear. Navas again saves from Mitrogou to keep his team’s chances alive. The drama continued with Greece Coach Fernando Santos being sent off at the end of extra time.

Borges steps out for the first spot kick and scores. Costa Rica 1: Greece 0.

Mitrogou slots Greece’s first calmly home. Costa Rica 1: Greece 1.

Ruiz steps up for Costa Rica’s second and scores emphatically. Costa Rica 2: Greece 1.

Lazaros fires home the second penalty for Greece. Costa Rica 2: Greece 2.

Gonzalez scores Costa Rica’s third, with power. Costa Rica 3: Greece 2.

Holebas scores Greece’s third, to make it Costa Rica 3: Greece 3.

Campbell steps up and slots his penalty home coolly. Costa Rica 4: Greece 3.

Navas pulls off a fine save to deny Gekas. It’s advantage Costa Rica; Costa Rica 4: Greece 3.

Umana fires into the roof of the net to win it for the Central Americans and send the stubborn Greece side packing. Costa Rica 5: Greece 3. A fantastic save from the magnificent Keylor Navas to continue Costa Rica’s fairytale run into the quarter finals.

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About Kene Okoye

A creative writer, banker, pianist, composer and music promoter, Kene documents events and presents his viewpoint in compelling narratives. He sets out to create vivid pictures with his intelligent use of words and seeks to engage, thrill, educate and inspire the reader. Come on and enjoy yourself.

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