RECIFE: Costa Rica secured a place in the World Cup quarter-finals for the first time yesterday after beating Greece 5-3 on penalties after the teams finished level at 1-1 after extra time, the Central Americans playing for almost an hour with 10 men.
Costa Rica keeper Keylor Navas dived to superbly save Theofanis Gekas’s fourth penalty for the Greeks, leaving Michael Umana to stroke home the decisive kick.
After a dire first half, the game came to life in the 52nd minute when an unmarked Bryan Ruiz placed a low side-footed shot beyond Greek keeper Orestis Karnezis and into the corner, but Costa Rica then had defender Oscar Duarte sent off for a second booking in the 66th minute.
Greece, who made it into the last 16 after an injury-time winner against Ivory Coast, again struck in added time when Gekas unleashed a shot that Navas parried straight into the path of Sokratis Papasthathopoulos who gleefully rammed into an empty net.
Greece almost snatched a 2-1 win moments later when Kostas Mitroglou had a header tipped over but though they had the best of extra time they were unable to press home their advantage and paid the price in their first shootout.
For Costa Rica’s fifth and final penalty, defender Michael Umana drilled his attempt into the top left corner and the central American nation were through to the quarter-finals for the first time in history.
Costa Rica, whose only previous appearance in the last 16 came 24 years ago, now face the Netherlands with a place in the semi-finals at stake. AFP