The Costa Rica men’s national soccer team beat Haiti this week 3-1, holding its place atop its World Cup qualifying group with a third straight win.
Despite four successive storms, including two hurricanes, that left at least 550 people dead in weeks prior, the game was played as scheduled in the water-logged Sylvia Cator Stadium in Port-au-Prince.
Tico forward Bryan Ruíz drew first blood with a goal in the 12th minute, but Haiti responded with a goal in the 39th minute, and the two teams went into half-time at a draw.
In the second half, the Haitians outscored La Sele, but only Tico shots found the net, as Ruíz notched his second goal in the 74th minute, and Alejandro Alpízar scored the game’s most stylish goal on a cross that slid just over the keeper’s hands and under the far upper V.
Earlier in the week, Costa Rica pounded Suriname 7 to 0. Froylán Ledezma commenced the barrage by scoring the first two goals, however, drew his second yellow card in as many games, disqualifying him from Wednesday’s match against Haiti.
Halfway through the six-game quadrangular phase, Costa Rica leads Group 3 with nine points – three for each win – to El Salvador’s six. Although the wins have La Sele sitting pretty in qualifying, many say the team has yet to meet any serious competition and remains relatively untested under new head coach Rodrigo Kenton, who took over a couple of months ago.
La Sele gets a break until its second game with Suriname on Oct. 11.
The United States and Trinidad & Tobago lead Group 1 after two games; Mexico and Honduras lead Group 2. The top two teams from each of the three groups will advance to next year’s hexagonal final qualifying round on the road to the 2010 World Cup to be held in South Africa.