After raising doubts about their performance in a friendly match in Asia last Friday, Costa Rica’s national football team, known as La Sele, redeemed themselves on Tuesday and looked more like the squad that finished eighth at the Brazil 2014 World Cup. La Sele defeated South Korea 3-1.
La Sele’s squad on Tuesday included nine starters who played in Brazil, and they showcased a more efficient defensive line and more control by midfielders.
Costa Rica’s star goalkeeper Keylor Navas and striker Joel Campbell were among the main changes introduced by coach Paulo Wanchope in a game that looked easier for Costa Rica than the previous one against Oman last Friday, in which La Sele blew a 3-1 lead, but ended up with a 4-3 victory.
Against South Korea, talented midfielder Celso Borges scored the first goal in the 31st minute, following a solid combination of passes. The play began from the left, followed by a cross pass from Junior Diaz that captain Bryan Ruiz sent to Borges, who finished with a right kick.
Moments before the end of the first half, a mistake in the defensive line allowed South Korea’s Dong Gook Lee to score in the 45th minute after he overpowered Cristian Gamboa for the ball.
La Sele broke the tie at the start of the second half when striker David Ramírez broke through the defense and passed to Borges, who scored in the 46th minute with a brilliant heel kick that took the South Koreans by surprise.
The South Koreans’ speed and technique were outmatched by the Ticos, who scored a third time on a header by defender Óscar Duarte following a corner kick by Ruiz.
La Sele continues its impressive streak of 10 wins in the past 12 matches, maintaining the team at the top of CONCACAF.
Mexico, in second, accumulated 954 points after their last match against Panama on Sunday. Costa Rica has 974 points.
The Ticos are ranked 15th by FIFA, followed by Mexico at 16th and the United States at 17th.
Costa Rica will face Uruguay next month in a match the South Americans hope will bring revenge for La Sele’s 3-1 victory at the World Cup.
South Korea: Kim Seung gyu, Jang Hyun Soo, Kim Young Gwon, Kim Juyong, Cha Duri, Ki Sungyueng, Lee Chungyong, Son Heungmin, Nam Taehee, Park Jooho, Lee Donggook. Manager: Ulrich Stielike.
Costa Rica: Keylor Navas, Michael Umaña, Óscar Duarte, Christian Gamboa, Junior Díaz, Yeltsin Tejeda, Celso Borges, Bryan Ruiz, Johan Venegas, Joel Campbell, David Ramírez. Manager: Paulo César Wanchope.
0 – 1 Celso Borges (38’)
1 – 1 Lee Donggook (45’)
1 – 2 Celso Borges (47’)
1 – 3 Oscar Duarte (78’)
Watch Celso Borges score with an impressive heel kick: