Costa Rica downs Colombia, departs Copa on positive note

Costa Rica players (pictured) celebrate after scoring against Colombia in the Copa America Centenario on June 11, 2016, in Houston. (Photo: Mexsport)


HOUSTON -- Costa Rica (1W-1D-1L, 4 points) won its first Copa America Centenario match, topping previously-perfect Colombia (2-0-1, 6, GD+2), 3-2, in the Group A finale on Saturday at NRG Stadium.

With the result, the United States (2-0-1, 6 points. GD+3), which posted a 1-0 win over Paraguay, finished in first place ahead of the Colombians on goal difference. The U.S. and Colombia earned both of the group’s quarterfinal spots.

The Central American champion scored the fastest goal of the tournament just 87 seconds after the opening whistle, when a long-distance strike by Johan Venegas landed in the right corner.

Colombia leveled in the seventh minute. Frank Fabra made a run into the box with the ball, lost it to Costa Rica’s Jose Salvatierra, but regained possession to score.

Fabra, however, was guilty of an own-goal in the 34th minute. Venegas beat his man and sent a cross through the goal mouth that Fabra accidentally deflected into the net.

Down a goal at halftime, Colombia went to its bench and subbed in regulars James Rodriguez and Edwin Cardona, as well as Juan Cuadrado in the 66th minute in a bid to remain at the top of the group.

Instead, Costa Rica built its lead to two goals. Celso Borges put in Bryan Oviedo’s cross in the 58th minute.

Marlos Moreno pulled one back for Colombia in the 73rd minute, but it could not find the equalizer.

Colombia will play the Group B winner in Friday’s quarterfinal at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.


BUDWEISER MAN OF THE MATCH: Celso Borges (Costa Rica)