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Friday, June 14, 2024

Costa Rica Thrashes Saint Kitts and Nevis 4-0 in World Cup Qualifier Opener

On Thursday evening, Costa Rica eased to a dominant 4-0 victory over a limited Saint Kitts and Nevis side. In wet and windy conditions at the Estadio Nacional de Costa Rica, both sides took time to get accustomed to the slippery pitch, leading to a rather insipid opening. Midway through the first half, captain Francisco Calvo had the game’s first significant chance, heading against the bar from an Ariel Lassiter corner.

Ten minutes later, Los Ticos opened the scoring after Orlando Galo headed home a teasing Jefferson Brenes cross. The tie meandered to the break, with the score staying at 1-0. And despite taking the lead, La Sele produced a far-from-convincing opening 45, with the resolute Saint Kitts and Nevis frustrating them for large parts, making for a rather disappointed home crowd of over 15,000 spectators.

However, just minutes after the break, Galo doubled his tally and the scoreline with a rasping effort from the edge of the box into the bottom left-hand corner after a smart lay-off by Manfred Ugalde. And with that, the growing discontent from the home supporters started to dissipate.

In the 72nd minute, Ugalde hit the bar from a Haxzel Quirós cutback, and minutes later, Álvaro Zamora missed a clearcut 1-1 opportunity shooting wide, as the home side upped the ante.

Finally, with 8 minutes to go, Los Ticos confirmed victory when Saint Kitts and Nevis goalkeeper Julani Archibald had a moment to forget when his clearance was charged down by substitute Josimar Alcócer, who only had to pass the ball into an open net. It was Josimar’s first senior international goal, and I am sure he won’t ever score an easier one!

Moments later, debutant Andy Rojas added a fourth after getting on the end of a Joel Campbell through ball and emphatically finishing into the bottom right-hand corner past the hapless Archibald.

The match finished 4-0, a comprehensive victory and the perfect start to the 2026 World Cup qualifying campaign. Here are my players ratings:

23) Patrick Sequeira – 7/10

3) Jeyland Mitchell – 7.5/10

6) Julio Cascante – 6.5/10

15) Francisco Calvo (C) – 7.5/10

22) Haxzel Quirós – 6.5/10

14) Orlando Galo – 8.5/10 (MOTM)

13) Jefferson Brenes – 6/10

11) Ariel Lassiter – 7/10

21) Álvaro Zamora – 6.5/10

17) Warren Madrigal – 6/10

9) Manfred Ugalde – 7/10

Substitutes

10) Brandon Aguilera (for Jefferson Brenes 64th minute) – 7.5/10

20) Josimar Alcócer (for Warren Madrigal 64th minute) – 7/10

19) Andy Rojas (for Álvaro Zamora 78th minute) – N/A

2) Gerald Taylor (for Haxzel Quirós 78th minute) – N/A

12) Joel Campbell (for Manfred Ugalde 81st minute) – N/A

Coach

Gustavo Alfaro- 7/10

Choose to stick with his customary 5-2-3 formation, which seemed a tad counterproductive against such weak opposition. Nonetheless, the players stuck to the game plan and produced a much improved second-half display. It was particularly pleasing to see younger players like Jeyland Mitchell, Andy Rojas, Warren Madrigal, and Josimar Alcócer get an opportunity to impress.

Next up for Costa Rica is an away game in Grenada on June 9th; kick-off is at 17:00 UTC−4.

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