Proud Costa Rica saves best for last at Copa

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


HOUSTON, Texas – Costa Rica completed its participation in the Copa America Centenario in a big way on Saturday with a 3-2 win over Colombia, knocking the South Americans out of first place in Group A.

Although the Ticos were eliminated prior to kickoff -- thanks to the United States outlasting Paraguay, 1-0 – they banded together to produce one of the tournament’s most outstanding performances; reviving memories of the 2014 FIFA World Cup run.

“I think that the match, football-wise, showed our best style,” said Costa Rica head coach Oscar Ramirez. “It was the same in the previous two (games), the only changes were several balance adjustments and being more prepared mentally. It’s nice to beat Colombia for the first time and demonstrate that we are a good team.”

For the former Alajuelense manager, it was important that his team bounced back and learned from a 4-0 loss to the United States.

“The players came out strong mentally to get the victory,” the 51-year-old continued. “They did a good job with ball possession, looking for the goal with the counterattack and later knowing when to sustain the pressure in the final part of the match. It’s true that we are out of the tournament and that is a negative, but it is the price that we have to pay to improve and learn, so we accept that.”

Ramirez hopes that the win will give Costa Rica momentum when the fourth round of CONCACAF qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup concludes with matches against Haiti (September 2, away) and Panama (September 6, home).

“Now we go from the tournament showing that we can score goals, beat quality opponents and recover the credibility of what we are doing positively, on the road to becoming better as a team each time,” finished Ramirez.

Costa Rica (3W-1D-0L, 10 points) currently sits atop the Group B table in World Cup Qualifying with 10 points, three ahead of Panama.