Marco Ureña (#21) raises his arms in celebration after scoring the equalizer for Costa Rica in a World Cup qualifier against visiting Mexico on September 5, 2017, in San Jose, Costa Rica. (Photo: Mexsport)
SAN JOSE, Costa Rica -- Marco Ureña scored late in the second half to give Costa Rica (4W-3D-1L, 15 points) a 1-1 draw with Mexico (5-3-0. 18) in a CONCACAF qualifier for the 2018 FIFA World Cup on Tuesday night at the Estadio Nacional.
The comeback helped the Ticos move closer to a place in Russia, keeping it second in the final-round table on 15 points through eight games. Mexico, which booked a World Cup ticket in a 1-0 win over Panama on September 1, maintained its three-point Hexagonal lead.
Ureña, who struck twice in the 2-0 away triumph over the United States on Friday night, netted in the 82nd minute. Daniel Colindres delivered a left-sided cross to the far post, which teammate Rodney Wallace headed towards the top of the box. The ball eluded Kendall Waston’s attempt to maintain possession, but Ureña was there to snap off a right-footed shot from inside the semicircle that eluded right-diving goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa.
Mexico got on the scoreboard first in the 42nd minute, when Giovani dos Santos used his upper body to turn Raul Jimenez’s cross from the right side of the box towards net. Costa Rica goalkeeper Keylor Navas managed to get a left hand on the ball, but it deflected off defender Cristian Gamboa and into the net for an own-goa.
Both goalkeepers were outstanding as Ochoa stood out. He denied Costa Rica captain Bryan Ruiz only 15 seconds after the opening kickoff and frustrated Ureña with a spectacular punch save in the 75th minute. Ruiz also had a 41st-minute attempt skim off the top of the crossbar.
Costa Rica’s Johan Venegas drilled a shot off the left post three minutes into second-half stoppage time.
Both teams will close out their CONCACAF qualifying campaign next month. The Mexicans will host Trinidad & Tobago on October 6 and play at Honduras on October 10, while Costa Rica – which only needs more one point to ensure qualification -- will welcome Honduras on October 6 and visit Panama four days later.
NOTES: Costa Rica would have sealed advancement to the 2018 FIFA World Cup by beating Mexico … Marco Ureña and Christian Bolaños are Costa Rica’s co-top scorers in qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup on four goals each.