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HomeNewsCosta Rica's Hopes Dashed as Colombia Secures Quarterfinal Spot

Costa Rica’s Hopes Dashed as Colombia Secures Quarterfinal Spot

Led by their stars James Rodríguez and Luis Díaz, Colombia broke through Costa Rica’s defense, thrashing them 3-0 this Friday in the hot Glendale, Arizona, and qualified in advance for the quarterfinals of the 2024 Copa América in the United States.

The Cafeteros, coached by Argentine Néstor Lorenzo, extended their unbeaten streak to 25 games with goals from Díaz (31), from a penalty, defender Davinson Sánchez (59), and striker Jhon Córdoba (62), in the second match of Group D. “It doesn’t matter who scores, the important thing is to win,” Córdoba stated.

With a perfect score, Colombia joined Argentina and Venezuela as the only teams with guaranteed spots in the second phase so far. They will determine the group leadership when they face Brazil on Tuesday in Santa Clara, California.

The Ticos, meanwhile, remained in third position with one point, after Brazil (second, with four points) eliminated Paraguay (fourth, without points) by thrashing them 4-1 this Friday in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The Central Americans, owners of the youngest squad in the tournament, who surprised by debuting with a goalless draw against the Brazilians, will seek against all odds to advance when they face the Paraguayans in Austin, Texas.

The Wall Falls

The scorching heat in Glendale, above 40 degrees Celsius, was not felt on the playing field of State Farm Stadium, whose climate control system regulated the temperature to between 24 and 26 degrees.

What was noticeable was the lack of massive crowd support (27,386 attendees), well below the 63,400-spectator capacity, although with an overwhelming majority of Colombian fans. Without the external suffocation that dries the eyes, Colombia demonstrated from the beginning its desire to take control.

With James and Díaz very active up front, the Cafeteros gradually approached the goal of Patrick Sequeira, goalkeeper for Ibiza, from the Spanish third division, and a key figure against the ‘Canarinha’.

The Costa Rican goalkeeper, in charge of the difficult task of replacing Keylor Navas, retired from the national team, had a day of contrasts.

First, he denied James (20) his 28th international goal by saving a shot that culminated a quick transition initiated by a long pass from Jefferson Lerma to Díaz.

Eight minutes later, in an unnecessary and erratic exit, he brought down Córdoba, one of Lorenzo’s new additions, inside the area.

Díaz, 27, took the penalty kick hard and high to the left of the 25-year-old goalkeeper. “In these kinds of matches, errors are costly,” said Alfaro.

Cafetero Feast

Although he had said he would settle for a draw just to get points, Alfaro started the game with an additional forward, Warren Madrigal, to try to hurt the Colombian defense, weakened by the absence of John Lucumí, injured in the victorious debut against Paraguay (2-1).

The fall of the Central American defense had liberating effects on Colombia, always with the ’10’ as the protagonist: he took two very dangerous set pieces, but they were wasted by Davinson Sánchez (33, 37).

On the third attempt, this time a corner kick taken by Jhon Arias, the Galatasaray defender didn’t forgive and confirmed, with a header, his country’s favorite status for the title of a tournament they won in 2001.

A moment later, James showcased his repertoire by assisting Córdoba with his weaker foot, the right one. Face to face with Sequeira, the Krasnodar striker unleashed a right-footed shot to celebrate his first Copa goal.

“James now runs less and thinks more,” Lorenzo highlighted. “He has a team that surrounds him well and gives alternatives to his game.”

With qualification in the bag, and Costa Rica completing two consecutive matches without a single direct shot on target, Lorenzo protected his stars, substituting them for the promising Yaser Asprilla (72) and Jhon Jader Durán (77).

The chants of “James, James” and “Lucho, Lucho!” showed the fans’ communion with the stars of a team that is making a strong impression.

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