RECIFE, Brazil – With his team down to 10 men for nearly an hour, Keylor Navas made sure Costa Rica’s last line of defense held firm.
The goalkeeper came through with a string of stops in regulation and extra time and then made the only save in a penalty shootout to send Costa Rica through to the World Cup quarterfinals on Sunday with a victory over Greece.
After Navas dived to his right to push out the penalty-kick attempt by Theofanis Gekas, Costa Rica defender Michael Umana scored the decisive spot kick for a 5-3 margin in the shootout, sending the team sprinting down the pitch to embrace its keeper. The match was even at 1 after the end of extra time.
Greece equalized in second-half injury time.
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“It was only a dream for us, a dream that became a reality,” Navas said. “A dream that was dreamt by an entire country.”
Costa Rica will play the Netherlands, one of the tournament favorites, in the quarterfinals on Saturday.
“To the entire people in Costa Rica, those at home and out on the streets, this is for you,” said Costa Rica coach Jorge Luis Pinto, who is from Colombia. “This is a people that love football and they deserve it. … We will continue fighting. We will go on. We see beautiful things.”
The victory also delighted the majority of the 41,242 fans, as the Brazilian locals shouted for Costa Rica throughout the match. Greece was often jeered.
Costa Rica went ahead in the 52nd minute on a goal by captain Bryan Ruiz, but the match changed when Oscar Duarte clumsily lunged at Greece’s Jose Holebas in the 66th minute and was sent off with a second yellow card.
Pouring forward, the Greeks did beat Navas in injury time when defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos smashed in a rebound to make the team’s numerical advantage eventually pay. Yet Navas kept denying the Greeks through extra time and then, crucially, when he dived, put up a hand and pushed Gekas’ spot-kick away at the end.
“Obviously he has to be congratulated,” Greece coach Fernando Santos said of Costa Rica’s keeper. “If it weren’t for (him), the results would have been different.”
Santos was sent to the stands by Australian referee Ben Williams before the penalties and said he watched the shootout on a TV inside the stadium.
“Sadness,” he said of Greece’s ouster and his last match in charge of the team. “Definitely sadness. Not much (else) goes through your mind at that time.”
Captain Giorgos Karagounis, who played in a national-record 139 matches for Greece, announced his retirement from international play after the loss.
• What was meant to be a joke turned into a public-relations blunder for Dutch airline KLM after it angered Mexican fans by taking to Twitter to celebrate the Netherlands’ 2-1 victory Sunday.
KLM let loose on its Twitter feed a picture of an airport departures sign under the heading “Adios Amigos!” Next to the word “Departures” is the image of a man with a mustache wearing a sombrero.
The post immediately went viral, with A-list Mexican actor Gael Garcia Bernal using two expletives in a tweet to tell his 2 million-plus followers he will never fly the carrier again. Amid the widespread protest online, the post was pulled about 30 minutes later.
“It was meant to be a joke,” said KLM spokeswoman Lisette Ebeling Koning, adding the airline never intended to offend Mexicans. “But there was too much negative reaction.”
KLM issued a formal apology late Sunday.
• Standout Brazil forward Neymar emerged from Saturday’s shootout victory over Chile with a swollen right thigh and coach Luiz Felipe Scolari said after the match the injury could be a problem for up to four days. Brazil plays Colombia on Friday and Scolari said “we will try to do our best to put him on the pitch.”