Japan used a dominant second half to cruise to a 3-1 victory over Costa Rica during a World Cup warm-up for both teams on Monday night in Tampa.
Costa Rica struck first thanks to a beautiful feed from Junior Diaz to Bryan Ruiz. Diaz chased after a ball in the left corner of the field and fired it in front of the net. Ruiz arrived in time to knock the pass by the Japanese keeper. The Ticos moved ahead 1-0 in the 31st minute.
Throughout the first half and early in the second half, Keylor Navas made some thrilling saves to fend off Japan. But everything soon would unravel for The Ticos.
A Japanese counterattack in the 60th minute left Navas helpless as Yasuhito Endo equalized the match at 1-1. Costa Rica looked lost and out of rhythm. Head coach Jorge Luis Pinto’s vaunted defense at times appeared like a sieve. It wouldn’t be fair to expect Navas to stop everything he faced. He still did more than enough to keep Costa Rica in the game, but the speedy Japanese squad kept coming.
Finally, in the 80th minute, Shinji Kagawa pushed one by Navas on another counterattack to give Japan the 2-1 lead. Costa Rica’s oft-maligned Randall Brenes had a chance to tie the game back up a few minutes later, but whiffed on a shot in front of the Japanese goal. At the 92nd minute, Yoichiro Kakitani finished off Costa Rica with the Samurai Blue’s third goal of the match.
It was a mortifying second half that came against what many consider an average Japan squad. The result left fans wondering how this team could possibly compete in Group D against three powerful opponents England, Italy and Uruguay.
Costa Rica has one more chance to right the ship before Brazil. La Sele plays Ireland on Friday in Philadelphia.