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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Costa Rica Secures 3-0 Victory Over Grenada in World Cup Qualifier

Costa Rica produced a clinical 3-0 victory away to Grenada at the Kirani James Stadium on Sunday evening thanks to goals from Manfred Ugalde, Álvaro Zamora, and Gerald Taylor.

The result means that Costa Rica are top of the World Cup Qualification group, two points clear of Trinidad and Tobago with two wins out of two games.

In team news, Head Coach Gustavo Alfaro made three changes from Thursday’s 4-0 victory over Saint Kitts and Nevis, with Gerald Taylor, Brandon Aguilera, and Josimar Alcócer replacing Haxzel Quirós, Brandon Aguilera, and Warren Madrigal. In terms of formation, Alfaro retained a 3-5-3 in attack and a 5-2-3 formation in defense.

In front of a sparse Grenadian crowd, La Sele took the lead after just 9 minutes when Manfred Ugalde coolly put away Brandon Aguilera’s precise through ball.

However, after a bright start from Los Tico’s, they turned complacent, and Grenada nearly equalized halfway through the first half when midfielder Keishon Clarke shot just wide. Seconds later, Darius Johnson should have also leveled, somehow missing the ball from just a yard out when it looked easier to score. Two real warnings to remind the Costa Rican players that this wasn’t a foregone conclusion.

In the 34th minute, La Sele breathed a sigh of relief when winger Álvaro Zamora scored his first senior international goal, as his shot deflected off of Clarke, wrong-footing goalkeeper Grandian goalkeeper Jason Belfon, and slowly crept over the goal line.

The second half was played at a slower tempo as the contest became increasingly disjointed; credit also has to go to The Spice Boys, who produced a spirited display that frustrated Los Ticos for much of the game.

With 20 minutes to go, Costa Rica added a third goal, when Ugalde took the ball around the keeper, being taken out in the process by Belfon, with Taylor emphatically slotting the loose ball home.

Another three points for Los Ticos, but it was a relatively poor display and tie, largely due to the pitch’s poor condition, with its unpredictable movement and bounces making for an ugly affair. Here are my players ratings:

23) Patrick Sequeira – 7/10

3) Jeyland Mitchell – 6.5/10

6) Julio Cascante – 7/10

15) Francisco Calvo (C) – 7/10

2) Gerald Taylor – 7/10

14) Orlando Galo – 6.5/10

10) Brandon Aguilera – 7/10

11) Ariel Lassiter – 6/10

21) Álvaro Zamora – 7/10

20) Josimar Alcócer – 6/10

9) Manfred Ugalde – 8/10 (MOTM)


17) Warren Madrigal (for Josimar Alcócer 64th minute) – 6/10

4) Juan Pablo Vargas (for Ariel Lassiter 64th minute) – 6/10

19) Kenneth Vargas (for Manfred Ugalde 74th minute) – N/A

22) Haxzel Quirós (for Gerald Taylor 74th minute) – N/A

12) Joel Campbell (for Álvaro Zamora 79th minute) – N/A


Gustavo Alfaro- 7/10

It was a convincing result, with three goals and a clean sheet, making it an impressive aggregate score of seven goals scored to nil conceded over the last two matches. However, it was a rather untidy performance (the scoreline flattered Costa Rica), with the players unable to string together possession or any meaningful passing patterns. This is illustrated in the statistic that Grenada had 61% possession, a concerning figure for La Sele against a nation ranked a lowly 174th.

Job done, but things must improve quickly ahead of the Copa América, where Los Ticos will face vastly superior opposition.

Costa Rica now turns their attention to the forthcoming Copa América tournament held in the USA. Their first fixture against Brazil takes place on June 24, with kick-off at 6:00 pm PDT (UTC−7).

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