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Sunday, June 29, 2014

The FIFA World Cup Kickaround and Postgame Thread For 6/29/2014: Keylor The Ticos God

Photo from  FIFA.com

Whether it was the beginning of the match or the end, it was all about Keylor Navas.

The 27-year-old keeper added to his amazing year by coming up with the denial of Theofanis Gekas to allow Michale Umaña to hit the winning penalty, sending Costa Rica through to their first World Cup quarterfinal.

It was the latest great performance from the in-demand Levante man, as his stop of Gekas was the only penalty not given in the deciding kicks.

Maybe the only man more coveted for Los Ticos than Navas is manager Jorge Luis Pinto, who saw his team muster up another magical display by his courageous underdog side when Michael Umana picked up a poor second yellow with a rash challenge on Jose Holebas in the 66th minute.

That came 14 minutes after Bryan Ruiz added his second goal of the tournament with a clever finish past Orestis Karnezis to give Costa Rica the 1-0 lead. It seemed the CONCACAF side would produce another resolute defensive play with the Greeks unable to get clear chances in front of goal with the man advantage.

But star center back Sokratis Papastathopoulos was the unlikely source for the equalizer, producing his first goal for his nation with a rebound effort pass Navas in stoppage time. Buoyed by that effort, the Greeks almost produced a winner a moment later as Vasilis Torosidis whipped in a great ball to find the struggling Kostas Mitroglou, only for Navas to tip it over the ball.

It seemed though that the great run for Costa Rica in Brazil would be over, as Mitroglou had a better chance to produce a glorious winner. But the Fulham man’s forgettable 2014 thus far received further misery when his scoffed shot was saved by the brilliant Navas once more.

It was only fitting that the netminder from San Isidro finished it off as the main protagonist.

As both teams showcased superb penalty taking of the highest order, the fatigued Joel Campbell made it seven straight makes to give Costa Rica the 4-3 lead.

On stepped Gekas, the 34-year-old forward a shell of the quality striker he was throughout his career, looking to tie it at a 4-all. And with many other goalkeepers around the world, his decent penalty would have went in. But the presence of Navas shone once more with the stretched right hand save to set up the moment for Umaña and his nation. And when the Saprissa defender competed a perfect penalty sequence for Los Ticos, their team and supporters throughout the small nation went into a wonderful place they’ve never been before.

Halftime: Costa Rica 0, Greece 0 


 Gamboa tried to get down the right flank, but after a promising first attack early on was snuffed out by Jose Holebas the rest of the first half with help from Christodoulopoulos, who has been underrated quality.

Still , no score, and both teams don't need to make changes now 

FT: Netherlands 2-1 Mexico (Sneijder 88, Huntelaar 90 +3; Dos Santos 48') 


It's the third time the Dutch have fallen behind this tournament, and it is the third time they have shown resilency of a national that seems like it has won multiple World Cups instead of the zero they have.

Van Gaal could have easily been swayed to keep Van Persie on the field, but he knew that Huntelaar could be the one in the air who could produce the moment to find that equalizer for them. And in that pure moment, he did just that with the header back down to Sneijder and the great equalizer.

"The Hunter" made the difference as Holland goes through and gives Mexican hearts major devastation. They were so close to finally ending their Round of 16 hurdle, but give up two goals in the last stage of the game. It was the feeling of dejection they could have felt had the United States not saved them in qualification last year, but it will not make them feel that much better to be out in the first knockout stage once again.

Herrera had the tactics that he wanted to a tee, and even his decision of taking off Dos Santos earliy didn't seem to be too bad as Aquino did help a bit in the attack. But the loss of Moreno was felt a bit with Reyes showing his naviete at times, and Layun just couldn't get forward enough as they set back maybe a bit too much after Dos Santos' goal.

And referee Pedro Proenca just failed to get the two bug calls of the game today. He missed Moreno's foul on Robben in the first half, and then got duped by Robben's flop in the key moment.

A shame that a referee cost both sides today, with the Mexicans receiving the one that hurt the most.


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