Head coach Jorge Luis Pinto (pictured) crafted a game plan that helped his side defeat Uruguay in a FIFA World Cup match on June 14, 2014, in Fortaleza, Brazil. (Photo: FIFA via Getty Images)
FORTALEZA, Brazil – Costa Rica raised the curtain on its 2014 FIFA World Cup campaign in the best possible way on Saturday with a 3-1 victory over Uruguay.
It was a massive result for the Ticos, who are in a group that contains three past World Cup champions. Rather than get caught up in the euphoria of the occasion, however, head coach Jorge Luis Pinto preferred to focus on the upcoming Group D encounters.
“We haven’t won anything yet, but this gives us confidence,’” said Pinto, 61, who guided Costa Rica to the 2013 Central American title. “It’s not the World Cup final. We now have to think about the matches against Italy and England. We won, but this is not all. I want to congratulate the entire team for their excellent work.”
The Costa Rican defense was given the task of stopping a Uruguayan offense with no shortage of attacking options. Though Liverpool forward Luis Suarez never got on the field as he bids to recover from recent knee surgery, the capable duo of Edinson Cavani and Diego Forlan started up front. Cavani got on the scoresheet via a first-half penalty kick, but neither struck through the run of play despite attempting a combined seven of Uruguay’s nine shots.
“It was very difficult to control the ball against players like Cavani and Forlan, but my players were very disciplined,” Pinto noted. “We dominated 80% of the aerial balls and it was something that I always told my players that we had to take into account.”
Costa Rica found the back of the net on three of its 12 shots, clinically feeding off Pinto’s composed demeanor.
“I told them that they had to go looking for chances to keep themselves composed,” Pinto concluded. “We maintained our defensive football and from there we went in front. The boys defended well and from there we succeeded in managing the match.”
In a meeting between two sides with opening-match victories, the Ticos will return to action on Friday against Italy.