International Friendly

Recap: Ireland 1-1 Costa Rica

For the second time in a week, PPL Park played host to a World Cup warmup match, with the Republic of Ireland drawing 1-1 with Brazil-bound Costa Rica. Unlike Tuesday night’s drab 0-0 draw between Nigeria and Greece, the 10,037, primarily red and blue clad fans were treated to a thrilling match that included two penalty kicks and a sending off.

Both sides featured plenty of attacking talent, with Robbie Keane and Kevin Doyle leading the Irish charge, while the Ticos called on Bryan Ruiz and Joel Campbell to create havoc in the final third. But neither side came out with much cohesion in their play.

Costa Rica controlled the early possession, but were stymied as they grew overly reliant on balls in the air, which were easily dealt with by the tall Irish centerbacks, Richard Keogh and Shane Duffy.

When they Irish did push forward, they looked threatening and in the 18th minute, the Ticos own disorganization at the back gave Ireland the time and space they need to craft the opener. Advancing up his left flank, fullback Marc Wilson found time to measure his cross, and with Costa Rica scrambling to find their marks, picked out Doyle racing into the box. Doyle got firm contact on his header, but from the top of the box, goalkeeper Keylor Navas will wish he had reacted more quickly and kept the ball out.

Stunned by the goal, Costa Rica struggled to find the pace of the game and it wasn’t until the 38th minute when they found their next scoring chance. When Irish goalkeeper David Forde could only get a slight touch on a cross from the left flank, Celso Borges pounced on the rebound, but he could only hook his follow up effort onto the top of the net.

Minutes later, Costa Rica found themselves reduced to ten men when Columbus Crew defender Giancarlo Gonzalez launched a vicious elbow into Doyle’s head, leaving the striker bloodied. It was the third such elbow from Gonzalez who had struggled to deal with Doyle’s pace and physicality, and while the referee first pulled out a yellow card, he corrected himself, rightly sending off the defender.

Going into halftime down a goal, and a man, Ireland appeared to have the match in hand, but the 10-man Costa Ricans came out in the second half in search of an equalizer.

Marcos Urena crafted the first two chances, bumping Keogh off the ball, but fluffed his shot in the 51st minute, before sprinting in behind the Irish defense moments later, only for Keogh to recover and make a timely intervention.

In the 63rd minute however, Urena’s efforts earned the Ticos a chance to draw level. Played in behind the defense by Campbell, Urena won the race to the ball, touching it beyond Forde before tumbling theatrically to ground, winning a penalty that Borges powered home straight down the center of the goal.

Three minutes later, Ireland had their own opportunity from the 12 yard spot when right back Heiner Mora was judged to have barged through the back of Stephen Quinn in the box. As the bitter protests continued, Keane stepped up, driving his shot low to substitute keeper Patrick Pemberton’s right. Though it was a well taken penalty, Pemberton’s reaction was better and he was able to palm away the shot, sending the largely Costa Rican crowd into euphoria.

Campbell nearly completed the most stunning of comebacks when he cut inside onto his left foot, flying past James McClean. But he was unable to beat Forde at the back post, with the keeper pushing the shot away at full stretch.

Ireland almost turned the match back in their favor as time wore down. Substitute Shane Long needed very little time at the corner of the box, turning and firing in an instant. Beaten at the near post, Pemberton could only get the slightest touch on the rasping drive, but was fortunate to see the shot carom back off their post, preserving the final 1-1 scoreline.

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