Ortiz brace lifts Costa Rica past Belize

Action from the Copa Centroamericana match between Belize (white jersey) and Costa Rica on January 15, 2017, in Panama City, Panama. (Photo: Imagenes en Costa Rica)

PANAMA CITY, Panama – Jose Guillermo Ortiz scored two goals and Costa Rica (1W-1D-0L, 4 points) extended its Copa Centroamericana (CCA) unbeaten streak to 10 games, earning a 3-0 win over Belize (0-1-1, 1) on Sunday at the Estadio Rommel Fernandez.

The result provisionally places the two-time defending champion Costa Ricans atop the six-team table with El Salvador-Honduras and Panama-Nicaragua encounters to be contested later in the day.

It was a dream international debut for Ortiz, who was recently acquired by D.C. United. The 24-year-old put Costa Rica ahead in the 25th minute, when he glanced a header off the left post after teammate David Guzman headed Elias Aguilar’s left-sided corner kick towards the net.

Near the end of the first half, a completely unmarked Juan Vargas was in position to double the Ticos' lead, but he sliced a left-footed effort from the top of the six-yard box wide of the left post.

Johan Venegas became the first player to score in each of the last two CCAs, making it 2-0 six minutes into the second half. A low, hard shot by Ortiz rebounded off the left post and then off the hands of goalkeeper Woodrow West as he tried to gain possession while rising off the ground. A quick-reacting Venegas then managed to poke it home with his right foot from eight-yards out.

In the 64th minute, Ortiz completed his brace with a goal similar to his first. Guzman delivered a right-sided corner to Kenner Gutierrez, whose header from three-yards out was redirected by Ortiz past West.

What’s next?
Both sides return to action on January 17…Costa Rica faces Nicaragua, while Belize will take on El Salvador.