Costa Rica (pictured) fell 3-1 to Japan in a pre-World Cup friendly on June 2, 2014, at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. (Photo: FIFA via Getty Images)
TAMAPA, Florida – Japan scored three second-half goals and rallied to beat Costa Rica, 3-1, in a high-intensity friendly between a pair of World Cup qualifiers on Monday at Raymond James Stadium.
The Japanese remained unbeaten in three all-time games between the sides, including two wins, while the Ticos are now winless in four of their last five outings overall.
Despite conceding on three occasions, Costa Rica goalkeeper Keylor Navas was outstanding in defeat. The 27-year-old made several huge stops against the offensively dynamic Asian champion.
Before the Central Americans went ahead, the Levante star dove to his left to make a 25th minute save off a Yoshida Okubo effort.
Six minutes later, Bryan Ruiz struck for Costa Rica, tapping in from the edge of the six-yard box off a cross from Junior Diaz.
In the 41st minute, Japan’s Shinji Kagawa navigated into the box and got off a shot, but Navas dove left once again to thwart the Manchester United midfielder.
Three minutes into the second half, Navas was again pressed into action, blocking Kagawa’s initial attempt before racing out to challenge Yuya Osako’s rebound that deflected out for a corner.
Navas parried away a Shinji Okazaki attempt in the 53rd minute, but Japan finally leveled on the hour mark. Yasuhito Endo slotted home a cross from AC Milan’s Keisuke Honda to cap a quick counter following a Costa Rican corner kick.
The Samurai Blue took a 2-1 lead in the 80th minute as Kagawa beat Navas from 12-yards-out off a quick one-two with Yoichiro Kakitani.
Japan put the game on ice in the second minute of second-half stoppage time as Kakitani eluded Navas, who came off his line to challenge.
Costa Rica, which will open Group D play against Uruguay June 14 in Fortaleza, Brazil, has one more tune-up on Friday against Ireland at PPL Park in Chester, Pennsylvania.