Costa Rica became the first country among the eight remaining ones participating in this year’s CONCACAF Gold Cup to advance to the semi-final stage of the competition.The Ticos defeated Panama by a lone goal in a keenly contested match played at Lincoln Financial Field stadium, Philadelphia, USA.
The two teams played cautiously in the first half, and very few goal-scoring chances were created by both sides.
Costa Rica’s use of wing backs meant they had only three defenders at their back line. And Panama with their counter-pressing approach stifled the Ticos’ attempts to build their attack with their back three.
Panama’s Miguel Camargo showed flashes of attacking brilliance but was always crowded upon and dispossessed of the ball by the Panama’s defenders when his play took him to the final third of the opponent’s half of the pitch.
The middle of the pitch was where majority of the play took place. The intense play at the mid-field practically prevented the strikers of both teams from receiving passes from their mid-fielders in the first half of the match.
Giancarlos Gonzalez wasted a chance to put Costa Rica in the forty first minute when he headed over the crossbar the ball crossed to him by his team mate from the flank.
The second half resumed and both sides started to make inroads into each other’s half.
David Guzman drew a brilliant save from Jose Calderon with his thunderous shot from outside the eighteen yard box.
Bryan Ruiz almost scored for the Ticos in the sixty fifth minute of the game. A Costa Rica’s attack at the periphery of Panama’s eighteen yard box saw Ruiz making a run into the opponent’s penalty box following a back heel flick from his team mate that breached Panama’s defence line, but Ruiz’s final curling shot was pushed out of the pitch by Calderon.
Gabriel Torres’s shot inside Costa Rica’s penalty box was deflected away from the goal post by Patrick Pemberton in an excellent display of his good reflexes.
The deadlock was finally broken when Godoy Anibat headed a Costa Rica’s free kick into his own net.
Immediately after the goal, Panama’s players poured forward in search of an equalizer, but the compact defending of the Ticos was proof against the attacking play of their desperate opponent.
A Costa Rica’s counter attack almost resulted into a goal but for the brilliant goal keeping of Calderon who was able to push out of play a Francisco Calvo’s shot inside his six yard.
This victory was somewhat a pyrrhic one for the Ticos who had to substitute Camarco and Ariel Rodriguez due to the injuries they sustain in the course of the match.
Costa Rica will now meet the winner between United States of America and El Salvador for the Semi-final match.