Celso Borges (pictured) celebrates after scoring in Costa Rica's Copa America Centenario win over Colombia on May 11, 2016, in Houston. (Photo: Mexsport)
HOUSTON -- After learning it was eliminated from the Copa America Centenario prior to kickoff of its final group match Saturday, Costa Rica will at least leave the tournament heartened by its final performance in a 3-2 victory over Colombia.
“Sometimes it’s about pride a little bit,” said Celso Borges, who scored the game-winning goal in the 58th minute. “You want to prove that you can win these kind of tournaments. If we had gone home with one tie and two losses, it would be really harsh, because of the way we were playing. I think it’s a big boost, the fact that we won.”
After failing to score in a draw against Paraguay and a loss to the United States, the Ticos found the attacking form they’d been searching for against a Colombia side that had already qualified for the quarterfinals.
Borges’ goal came at the end of a swift attack from the back that included at least a half-dozen passes. The final two were played by Christian Bolaños, who sent a looping ball out wide, and Bryan Oviedo, who hit Bolaños’ feed on the first bounce toward the penalty spot.
That left Borges to hit a similarly clinical half-volley beyond the reach of goalkeeper Robinson Zapata.
“Nice, collective play by everyone,” Borges expressed. “Just got a chance to finish it.”
Before halftime, Impact de Montreal midfielder Johan Venegas made his presence felt in his first start of the tournament.
In the second minute, he took down Borges’ long diagonal ball, cut back and then curled a stunning 21-yard effort around Zapata and inside the far right post. Then, in the 34th, he dribbled through the legs of defender Felipe Aguilar down the left and whipped in an out-swinging cross that deflected off Frank Fabra for an own-goal.
“I felt really good on the field, but this was accompanied by all the work my teammates did,” commented Venegas. “We had a great day. We expressed some good soccer and we scored the opportunities that we created.”
Venegas said the Ticos’ performance was the least his nation deserved.
“Thank God it happened and we were able to get the win,” he finished. “It was for our families, and all the fans in Costa Rica.”