Costa Rica’s National Team, known as “La Sele,” kept up a string of great performances at home on Tuesday night with a 2-0 win over an always feisty Panama at the National Stadium in San José.
Heavy rains drenched fans and both teams, slowing play for the Costa Ricans in the first half with slippery conditions that made footing difficult. Both teams kept the ball in the midfield throughout the match, and except for a few early shots on goal by Panama, and two stunning back-to-back goals by Costa Rica, the two goalies saw very little action.
In the second half, Costa Rica’s La Sele stepped up its attack. A few minutes into the second period, two of the Tico team’s most questioned players – captain Brian Ruíz and Celso Borges – vindicated themselves with two spectacular goals in rapid succession.
Ruiz slammed a free-kick in the 49th minute and opened the scoring, allowing some 30,000 Ticos to finally celebrate.
Ruiz also set up for the second Costa Rica goal shortly after. Celso Borges collected a short pass from Ruiz at midfield after 52 minutes and unleashed a powerful shot from some 30 meters that nested in the top left corner of Panamanian Jaime Penedo’s goal.
The Tico captain was substituted late in the game and left the field to a standing ovation.
The match ended 2-0 with a skirmish between players from both rival teams. It was broken up shortly after.
The Ticos now have an excellent shot at qualifying for next year’s World Cup in Brazil, with 11 points from six matches, just behind the United States, which beat Honduras 1-0 earlier in the night. La Sele will face the U.S. at home next September.
The Costa Rican national team has won three straight matches at home.
Costa Rica: Keylor Navas, Cristhian Gamboa, Michael Umaña, Giancarlo González, Junior Díaz, Celso Borges, Ariel Rodríguez, Cristian Bolaños, Joel Campbell, Bryan Ruiz, Álvaro Saborío. Coach: Jorge Luis Pinto. Substitutions: Kenny Cunningham (Bolaños, 64’), Diego Calvo (Campbell, 82’), Roy Miller (Ruiz, 85).
Panama: Jaime Penedo, Leonel Parris, Felipe Baloy, Román Torres, Luis Henríquez, Alberto Quintero, Armando Cooper, Amilcar Henríquez, Rolando Escobar, Blas Pérez, Luis Tejada. Coach: Julio Dely Valdés. Substitutions: Nelson Barahona (Quinteros, 58’), Gabriel Gómez (Pérez, 68’), Robert Miller (Henríquez, 74’).
Referees: Courtney Campbell (Jamaica), Garnet Page (Jamaica), Dion Neil (Trinidad & Tobago).