(ABOVE) Costa Rica (pictured) celebrates after scoring against host Panama in a World Cup qualifier on November 17, 2015, in Panama City.
PANAMA CITY, Panama -- Costa Rica scored twice during a brief second-half stretch to earn a 2-1 win over host Panama in a CONCACAF fourth-round World Cup qualifier at the rain-soaked Estadio Rommel Fernandez on Tuesday.
The victory gave the Central American champion sole possession of first place in Group B with maximum points after two games. Panama and Jamaica -- which beat Haiti 1-0 earlier in the evening -- are tied for second on three points each. The Haitians have lost both of their encounters by the same 1-0 score.
Bryan Ruiz and Marco Ureña put the visitor ahead 2-0, before Luis Tejada halved the deficit just a minute after entering as a second-half substitute for Richard Dixon.
Panama goalkeeper Jaime Penedo denied a Kendall Waston header in the 17th minute, but the towering defender assisted on the Ticos first goal. Waston rose high in the box to head a ball to the right, where Ruiz was stationed. He chested it down and poked a left-footed shot past Penedo at the right post to give Costa Rica a 1-0 lead in the 66th minute.
Three minutes later, Ureña’s goal was less complicated. After receiving the ball on the left, the 25-year-old cut inside, eluded a pair of defenders and skidded a low, right-footer inside the left post from 20-yards out past the diving Penedo.
A defensive breakdown led to Tejada’s 12th career WCQ goal. The forward played a neat give-and-go with Blas Perez and uncorked a shot from inside the box that struck a defender, but bounced back to Tejada, who looped his follow-up over goalkeeper Patrick Pemberton from 14 yards.
Costa Rica and Panama will both be in the Caribbean when qualifying resumes on March 25, squaring off against Jamaica and Haiti, respectively.