FORTALEZA, Brazil – Costa Rica came from behind to stun Uruguay 3-1 Saturday at the World Cup, opening play in rugged Group D with a major upset.
Costa Rica entered the tournament as one of the biggest underdogs to make it out of the group stage after being drawn with Uruguay, Italy and England, but showed no signs of being in awe as it scored three goals in the second half to seriously dent the South Americans’ hopes of advancing.
Uruguay had to leave star striker Luis Suarez on the bench but went ahead when Edinson Cavani scored on a penalty kick in the 24th minute. Costa Rica’s Joel Campbell drove in a ball headed down by Celso Borges in the 54th minute to beat goalkeeper Fernando Muslera.
Oscar Duarte dived past the outstretched foot of Uruguay’s Cristian Stuani to head in the winner for the Central Americans, and substitute Marcos Urena added the third goal with six minutes left from a tough angle.
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It was Costa Rica’s first World Cup victory since beating China in the group stage in 2002.
“What counted is that we stayed calm and kept creating opportunities against a very tough team,” said coach Jorge Luis Pinto of 28th-ranked Costa Rica. “We have great respect for Uruguay but we weren’t that impressed tonight and we able to play our game the way we wanted. So it was a big win for us.”
Uruguay started with striker Diego Forlan alongside Cavani but the 35-year-old made little impact and was substituted on the hour for Nicolas Lodeiro.
Uruguay — ranked No. 7 in the world, best in Group D — ended its disastrous night with 10 men after Maxi Pereira was sent off for a clumsy injury-time foul on Campbell. Pereira will be suspended from the next match against England.
“They were simply very good. In the second half, they just took over — and they took the tactical advantage,” Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez said. “Football means that sometimes you have to lose. You can’t lose heart, you just have to improve … We made mistakes today that we haven’t made for a long time.”
Suarez is still recovering from knee surgery and never came off the bench — indicating the Liverpool forward is still far from match fitness.
Ivory Coast prevails
RECIFE, Brazil – Didier Drogba came off the bench to inspire Ivory Coast to a 2-1 comeback victory over Japan in a Group C match.
Drogba, who is hampered by a thigh injury, came on in the 62nd minute when his team was losing 1-0.
The talismanic striker’s arrival immediately lifted the Ivory Coast team and Wilfried Bony and Gervinho scored with headers two minutes apart. Both goals were set up by crosses from defender Serge Aurier.
Coach Sabri Lamouchi’s inspired substitution negated Keisuke Honda’s first-half goal that put Japan ahead.
“You could see that it was very influential when he (Drogba) was on the pitch,” Lamouchi said. “He created space for the players.”
BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil – Colombia started its first World Cup campaign in 16 years in dazzling fashion, beating Greece 3-0 to open Group C in front of a loud, pro-Colombian crowd of 57,174.
Left back Pablo Armero opened the scoring in the fifth minute when his deflected shot rolled past Greece goalkeeper Orestis Karnezis. Striker Teofilo Gutierrez poked in Colombia’s second goal from a deflected corner in the 58th and James Rodriguez capped off scoring with a low shot in stoppage time after a slick backheel flick from Juan Cuadrado.
Colombia’s pace and trickery were too much for Greece to handle in the latter stages.
“It was a good debut with players who had never played a World Cup. It’s a big satisfaction,” Colombia coach Jose Pekerman said. “This is how we planned this match.”