Costa Rica's Randall Azofeifa (pictured) celebrates after scoring the game-winning goal against host Haiti in a World Cup qualifier on September 2, 2016, in Port-au-Prince. (Photo: FIFA.com)
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Costa Rica (4W-1D-0L, 13 points) earned a place in the final round of CONCACAF qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup with a 1-0 win over host Haiti (0-0-5, 0) on Friday at the Stade Sylvio Cator.
Randall Azofeifa’s stunning second-half strike proved to be the difference in a fourth-round game that saw the Haitians be eliminated from contention after being shutout in a fifth straight Group B outing.
Later in the evening, host Panama (2-1-1, 7) could also wrap up advancement by defeating Jamaica (1-1-2, 4).
While Costa Rica’s defense was once again strong, allowing a goal or fewer in a fifth straight qualifier, it was Azofeifa making the headlines.
Haiti goalkeeper Steward Ceus punched Crisian Bolaños’ left-sided corner kick beyond the semi-circle, where Azofeifa was waiting. The Herediano star let the ball bounce off his chest, before striking it perfectly from 25-yards out with his right foot off the left post and into the net.
In a match that struggled to generate many chances, Bryan Ruiz could have given Costa Rica a second-minute lead, but Ceus did well to make the save.
Costa Rica will close group play on Tuesday by hosting Panama in an all-Central American battle, while Haiti will visit Jamaica the same day.