The Costa Rican men´s national soccer team racked up its sixth win Wednesday night in as many World Cup qualifying games, handling hosts El Salvador 3-1.
El Salvador notched the night´s first goal the 18th minute, but Costa Rica responded with goals by Roy Myrie and Freddy Fernández in the next 12 minutes. In the second half, although the two teams shared possession almost equally, El Salvador were the ones putting consistent pressure on the goal but had to watch agonizingly as four shots on goal were saved by Tico goalie Ricardo González and two more deflected off the goalposts. Myrie sealed the deal for Costa Rica with a header in the fourth minute of injury time just before the final whistle.
La Sele, as the Tico team is known, became the only squad in the regional CONCACAF World Cup qualifying tournament to win all six games in the quadrangular semifinal phase, taking Group 3 with the full 18 points. Despite the loss, El Salvador still holds the second spot easily with 10 points. Both teams advance to next year´s six-team “hexagonal” regional finals.
The team´s performance is an affirmation of Head Coach Rodrigo Kenton´s command of the squad. La Sele has moved up over 20 spots in the international rankings from 79 to 57 since he took over in late June.
In Group 2, Mexico limped into the finals after losing to Honduras 0-1 Wednesday, only edging a formidable Jamaican squad on goal differential. Honduras won the group and will advance as well.
Trinidad & Tobago also qualified Wednesday in Group 1 and will join the U.S. and the other four teams in next year´s regional finals. The top three finishers in that tournament will qualify for the FIFA 2010 World Cup in South Africa. The fourth-place team will play the fifth-placed finisher in the South America tournament for the hemisphere´s last ticket to Africa.