(QCOSTARICA SPORTS) The blue shirts of El Salvador’s loyal fans filled the seats Saturday at BBVA Compass Stadium.
Costa Rica’s second-half play left them feeling blue – right up to the final minute.
Captain Bryan Ruiz gave Costa Rica the lead in the 61st minute, but Dustin Corea found the equalizer in stoppage time, salvaging a 1-1 tie for El Salvador in Group B play at the CONCACAF Gold Cup.
“We’re very happy,” El Salvador coach Albert Roca said through a translator. “We deserved a draw.
“It was a complicated game, just like the game against Canada. We made mistakes, the Houston weather was rough, but it’s a very valuable draw for El Salvador, and we’re happy we were able to give it to the fans.”
Both teams moved to 0-2-0 in group play, with two points apiece.
Costa Rica and El Salvador played to a scoreless draw after the first 45 minutes in front of 22,017 fans.
El Salvador defender Alexander Mendoza supplied the first shot on goal with a header from the center of the box in the 19th minute, but goalkeeper Esteban Alvarado made the save.
Alvarado stopped two more shots – Alexander Larin’s left-footed attempt the 23rd minute and Arturo Alvarez’s left-footer in the 26th minute – before Costa Rica’s first chance.
Costa Rica finally broke through in the second half.
Ruiz fired a shot from the left side on a difficult angle, squeezing it between the left post and Carillo’s right side.
“I’m happy that I scored (Saturday) but sad we allowed that last-minute goal,” said Ruiz, who scored his 18th goal for Costa Rica.
El Salvador fought hard for the equalizer but came up empty – in regulation.
Moises Garcia’s shot from outside the box was saved by Alvarado in the top right corner in the 66th minute, and Darwin Ceren’s shot from the right side sailed high and wide in the 67th minute.
When El Salvador was denied a corner kick in the 87th minute, several fans began throwing plastic cups and water bottles onto the field, and one fan went onto the pitch and hugged Alvarado.
But El Salvador had a last gasp.
Alvarez sent a ball ahead to Corea just after the start of stoppage time, and Corea put it in with a leaping kick.
The goal sent the already raucous crowd over the edge.
More drinks rained down, and several fans leaped over the wall to wave flags or attempt to greet the players.
Alvarado supplied five saves for Costa Rica, but he came up empty on the final shot.
“Losing (the lead) in the last minute is bittersweet, but now the most important thing is just to lift the players’ spirits and move on to Canada (to face Jamaica),” Costa Rica coach Paul Wanchope said.