Joel Campbell (#9) celebrates with teammates after scoring against Uruguay in a FIFA World Cup match at the Estadio Castelao on June 14, 2014, in Fortaleza, Brazil. (Photo: FIFA via Getty Images)
FORTALEZA, Brazil – A brilliant performance from Joel Campbell and three second half goals helped lead Costa Rica to a thrilling 3-1 victory over Uruguay on Saturday in the opening 2014 FIFA World Cup match for each at the Estadio Castelao.
It was the Ticos first win in the tournament since defeating China, 2-0, in 2002.
After Edinson Cavani gave La Celeste the lead with a first half spot kick, goals from Campbell, Óscar Duarte and Marco Ureña secured a victory that puts the current Central American champion atop the Group D table.
Under a scorching Brazilian sun, it was Uruguay -- playing without talisman Luis Suarez -- that appeared the stronger side early on, controlling possession throughout the opening ten minutes.
The Uruguayans thought they had taken a 14th minute lead, when Diego Godin slid home a glancing header from Cavani. The Atletico Madrid star, though, was flagged for offside.
The breakthrough would come soon enough, as Costa Rica defender Junior Diaz brought down Diego Lugano in the box on a set piece. German referee Felix Brych quickly awarded the penalty and it was Cavani, the Paris Saint-Germain marksman, who stepped up to the spot and finished with aplomb to give his side a 1-0 advantage in the 24th minute.
Unfazed, the Costa Ricans nearly equalized just minutes later. Campbell found himself in space 35 yards from goal and unleashed a left-footed drive that sailed just wide of the far post.
The second half started brightly for Costa Rica. A Christian Bolaños free lick found Oscar Duarte, but the Club Brugge man sent his thumping header straight at Muslera.
The equalizer game in the 53rd minute following some great build-up play down the right flank. Cristian Gamboa whipped in an outward swinging cross that fell perfectly for Campbell, allowing the 21-year-old to uncork a venomous left-footed shot across the face of goal and into the back of the net.
Now clearly in the ascendency, Costa Rica was back on the scoresheet just four minutes later. Another precise set piece delivery from Bolaños again found Duarte at the back post. Not to be denied twice, Duarte bravely guided a diving header through the outstretched legs of a Uruguayan defender and into the back of the net to give the Ticos a 2-1 lead.
Later. Campbell fizzed another 30-yard effort just wide and goalkeeper Keylor Navas did well to keep out a Cavani header.
The Ticos sealed the victory with six minutes left in normal time. Marco Ureña collected a impeccably weighted through ball from Campbell and beat charging goalkeeper Fernando Muslera to make it 3-0.
Costa Rica will now enjoy five days off before facing four-time World Cup champion Italy on June 20 in the Arena Pernamuco, Recife.