Real Madrid needed Keylor Navas to make a save just four minutes into today’s match against La Liga opponent Elche. Navas got in front of a big free kick from captain Edu Albácar. Albácar prevailed against the Tico goalie 10 minutes later with a penalty kick.
Navas actually got a hand on the penalty, but the blast was too powerful and carried into the goal. Teammate Cristiano Ronaldo has bailed Navas and Real Madrid out of an early hole with two goals (28′, 32′). Gareth Bale also scored (20′) as Real Madrid leads 3-1 at halftime. (UPDATE: Ronaldo finished with a FOUR goals. Real Madrid won easily 5-1. Navas finished with three saves in his debut.)
Costa Rica’s World Cup hero made his first official start for the legendary Spanish club. He started a 2-1 loss in a friendly against Fiorentina in August. And to begin the La Liga season, Spain national team keeper Iker Casillas was named Real Madrid’s starter.
But Real Madrid has a middling 2-2 record, partially due to some weak performances by Casillas. He was booed by his own fans in a recent loss 2-1 to rival Atlético Madrid. On Tuesday, Casillas was benched to give Navas a chance to prove his worth.
Navas is not the own Costa Rican given a starting role today. On what we shall dub Tico Tuesday, four Costa Ricans are making their first starts this afternoon for European clubs. In addition to Navas, Bryan Ruiz (Fulham), Joel Campbell (Arsenal) and Bryan Oviedo (Everton) are all making their debuts for their respective English clubs.
Keylor Navas, Bryan Oviedo, Bryan Ruiz and Joel Campbell all starting today for their respective clubs. My heart is about to explode.
— Andy (@Badandy538_) September 23, 2014
Júnior Díaz also is in the starting line-up for Germany’s Mainz 05, although this is the defender’s first start of the season.
UPDATE 2: Ruiz scores (16′) in his return to Fulham. The Whites won 2-1 over Doncaster to advance to the fourth round of the Capital One Cup.
In more Capital One Cup action, Campbell’s Arsenal squad fell 2-1 to Southampton. Oviedo — starting for Everton for the first time since breaking his leg last January — played until the 58th minute in a 3-0 loss to Swansea.
Here’s a replay of Ruiz’s goal.