The Costa Rica soccer team was the last underdog still standing in the second stage of the 2014 World Cup. However, their historic run came to a crushing end when they faced-off against the Netherlands. In a dramatic finish to the best performance from a CONCACAF team in tournament history, the Central American country lost in the penalty shootout.
Even though the Netherlands move on to the semifinals of the 2014 World Cup, they could not do away with the feisty Costa Rica soccer team during regulation or extra time and the match was forced to go into penalty kicks. Los Ticos battled the Dutch with all they had, but in the end they ran out of luck.
In one of the best matches of this stage, the Costa Rica soccer team stood on the same level as the legendary Clockwork Orange, defending with astonishing precision and missing some clear chances to score. In the dying moments of regulation, the Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal made a decision that would prove to be exactly what the Dutch needed to move on.
Just as the extra time was ending, van Gaal — who has been dubbed one of the best managers in the world — had the forethought to substitute his starting goalie, Jasper Cillesen, for the penalty specialist Tim Krul. In one of those things that usually happens during penalty kicks, the move paid off and Krul stopped Costa Rica kicker Bryan Ruiz from scoring, giving his team the lead.
Later on, Krul also stopped Costa Rica soccer team’s Marco Ureña to put the last nail in their coffin and send them packing. But not before Los Ticos won millions of hearts and minds with their shocking performance in the groups stage, where they finished in first place in Group D — one of the toughest ones in the 2014 World Cup — which included three previous champions: Italy, Uruguay, and England.
The undisputed hero of the match against the Netherlands was Costa Rica soccer team goalkeeper, Keylor Navas, who during the match against Greece in the round of 16 was the hero in the penalty shootout. Stopping one shot on goal after another, Navas was declared the best goalie of the 2014 World Cup by some experts.
During the match against the Dutch, Navas kept the Costa Rica soccer team’s hopes alive with similar a performance. The 27-year-old, who finds his home with Levante in La Liga, was simply magnificent as the Netherlands barraged him with shot after shot. He was impenetrable.
But even Navas couldn’t stop the excellent penalty kickers van Gaal selected for his side. One thing is certain, the Costa Rica soccer team will go down as one of the best in World Cup history, conceding only two goals in the tournament, the least of any of the 32 teams competing.
In the end the Costa Rica soccer team captured the imagination of the world with their precise style of play and mostly because of the heart and unity they showed as a team. It was a fun run and hopefully we will see Los Ticos in the 2018 World Cup.
[Image via Twitter]