Costa Rica convert their only chance on target to beat Japan 1-0.
Coming into this game, Japan had beaten Germany, while Costa Rica were roundly thrashed 7-0 by Spain. So it was no wonder that Costa Rica thought they had a point to prove and refused to succumb to another bewildering defeat. Japan on the other hand thoroughly deserved their victory last time, and were to build on that today. Their squad is incredibly talented and they were confident they can do the business.
But football is as much a game of chance as of strategy. And only one team took their chances today.
The opening minutes didn’t see much actually happening. There was little tempo or flow to the game. Both teams were a long way from their opening fixture; Japan looked a touch disjointed, while Costa Rica were plenty with plenty of commitment. Japan put together a good move, trying to find the space inside the box against a Costa Rica side that are playing very deeply. The attack ended with a cross being chipped out of play.
In the first half, Costa Rica played some nice passes but did not actually made it out of their own half. It was a bit of a struggle for them. The Japanese didn’t do much better, either. So the half ended with no shot on target for both sides.
The second half saw an invigorated Japan without results to show for. Endo took aim for the bottom corner from 18 yards but a diving block prevents it from reaching the net. The ball quickly came back into the box where Asano is waiting to flick at goal but his header has no power and Navas took hold.
Costa Rica had 11 men behind the ball. They were just putting a wall up and making Japan try to knock it down. But then out of no where a mistake from Japan gifted the ball to Costa Rica, it was passed to Fuller who took aim from the edge of the box. The shot had limited power and went through the keeper’s hands.
Japan try to equalize in the closing minutes. Mitoma beat Fuller on the left, he pulled the ball back to Kamada who sidefoots a shot at goal. Navas saved and then it was pinball in the box for a few seconds until the goalkeeper manages to regain possession.
Japan were the better team but were unable to break down Costa Rica who scored through their only shot of target of the match (and tournament). It is a great win for Costa Rica after their thrashing by Spain. They showed incredible commitment in defence to keep out Japan. Their goal was a touch fortunate but that’s football for you.