Five years ago, Costa Rica’s national team, La Sele, defeated Greece the white spot to qualify for the quarterfinals, in the unforgettable Brazil World Cup 2014, this time, last night, they had to accept a defeat in penalties against Mexico.

Costa Rican Joel Campbell fighting for possession with Mexico’s Edson Alvarez in the quarterfinals of the Concacaf Gold Cup on June 29, 2019, at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas.  Photo from Concacaf

They weren’t cruised, nor were they a goal-scoring machine. In the end, Mexico saw it worst against Costa Rica in the best given of the era of Gustavo Matosas at the helm of La Sele.

Mexico was expected to win the “win-or-go-home” challenge from Costa Rica and the first obstacle to an eighth Gold Cup trophy.

The Ticos gave it their all. So did the Mexicans who dominated the first two group stage games, in a style that spoke loudly of the tactics of new coach Gerardo “Tata” Martino, while Costa Rica was inconsistent in its group stage.

Unfortunately for either team, the end result was decided by a Russian roulette of penalties.

Unlike the five years ago, the roulette wheel didn’t favor the Ticos, Guillermo Ochoa making the decisive save to earn Mexico a 5-4 penalty shootout win over Costa Rica following a 1-1 draw.

With El Tricolor (Mexico) leading 5-4 in the shootout, the veteran goalie dived to his right to save Keysher Fuller’s attempt, sending Mexico to the Gold Cup semifinals and Costa Rica packing its bags.

Trivia

In Gold Cup history, eight quarterfinals have been decided in a penalty shootout.

Costa Rica has never won a Gold Cup penalty shootout:

  • Semi-finals of 2009 vs. Mexico (5-3)
  • Quart-finals vs Honduras in 2011 (4-2)

Mexico has won its last 7 Gold Cup quarterfinals. Last defeat was vs. Colombia in 2005 (2-1).

Costa Rica has played 11 Gold Cup quarterfinals: 4 Wins – 1 Draw – 6 Losses.