Costa Rica beats Greece in penalty shootout
RECIFE, Brazil (AP) - Costa Rica beat Greece in a penalty shootout Sunday to reach the World Cup quarterfinals for the first time after defending desperately with 10 men for nearly an hour.
Michael Umana scored the decisive penalty as Costa Rica won the shootout 5-3 after the game ended 1-1 following extra time.
Greece's Theofanis Gekas saw his penalty saved by Costa Rica goalkeeper Keylor Navas for the only miss in the shootout. Umana scored and straight away sprinted over to where Navas stood to hug him after the goalkeeper kept Costa Rica's surprise run at the World Cup alive with a string of last-gasp stops through the 120 minutes.
The rest of the Costa Rican squad, which had knelt in a line during the shootout, also came racing over to join the celebrations.
Costa Rica will play the Netherlands in the quarterfinals on Saturday in Salvador - a first appearance in the last eight for the small Central American country that no one picked to even make it past the group stage.
"To the entire people in Costa Rica, those at home and out on the streets, this is for you," Costa Rica's Colombian coach Jorge Luis Pinto said. "This is a people that love football and they deserve it. ... We will continue fighting. We will go on. We see beautiful things."
Costa Rica had taken the lead early in the second half at Arena Pernambuco through captain Bryan Ruiz's smooth finish but then had defender Oscar Duarte sent off in the 66th minute with a second yellow card for a mistimed tackle on Jose Holebas.
The red card changed the game and Greece poured forward for most of the remainder of the match.
The Greeks equalized and finally beat Navas in injury time of regulation time when defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos smashed in a rebound from another Navas save to make the team's numerical advantage eventually pay and temporarily keep it in the World Cup.
Greece continued to storm forward in extra time but Navas stood in the way. He made three crucial stops just in extra time, when Greece's Costas Katsouranis, Lazaros Christodoulopoulos and Konstantinos Mitroglou were all denied.
"Obviously he has to be congratulated," Greece coach Fernando Santos said of Navas. "If it weren't for (him), the results would have been different."
Santos had been sent to the stands by Australian referee Ben Williams just before the penalties and said he watched the shootout on a television inside the stadium.
"Sadness," he said of his first reaction after Greece's elimination and his last game in charge of the team. "Definitely sadness. Not much (else) goes through your mind at that time."
But the Costa Rican victory delighted the majority of the just over 41,000 fans in Recife as the Brazilian locals shouted for Costa Rica throughout the round-of-16 game and often broke out into chants of "Ole, Ole, Ole, Ole, Ticos!" - using the common nickname for Costa Ricans.
While the Costa Rican team made its own World Cup history, it also ended Greece's best-ever run. Greece was playing in the second round for the first time.
After a scoreless first half, Ruiz slid his low shot into the right corner of Greece's goal in the 52nd minute for the lead after a pull-back by winger Christian Bolanos from the left. Duarte made a clumsy challenge on Holebas, however, and Costa Rica reverted to all-out defense to try and hang on for the win.
They nearly did it, but a close-range block by Navas from Gekas fell to Papastathopoulos in the first minute of injury time and he powered his shot home to give Greece hope.
Mexico blames ref for extending 2nd-round curse
FORTALEZA, Brazil (AP) - Mexico's second-round curse at the World Cup remains unbroken.
Playing in the round of 16 for the sixth straight tournament, the Mexicans looked like they had finally done everything right against the Netherlands on Sunday.
Their rigid defense was holding the free-scoring Dutch at bay, goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa made some spectacular saves, and their string of first-half chances produced a goal from Giovani Dos Santos just after the break.
It all unraveled in the 88th minute.
Ochoa couldn't be everywhere at Arena Castelao, and Wesley Sneijder finally beat him with a shot aimed low. A few minutes later, Klaas Jan Huntelaar won it for the Dutch, scoring an injury-time penalty to make it 2-1 after Arjen Robben was taken down by Rafael Marquez.
"The boys are very sad. It was really very painful to go out this way," Mexico coach Miguel Herrera said. "We were eliminated because of an invented penalty.
"We are going home now and so should the referee."
Herrera argued that Robben should have been cautioned by referee Pedro Proenca for two earlier penalty claims.
He also acknowledged, however, that his players lost their concentration in the final minutes of a match that was stopped twice for official cooling breaks.
Mexico has played at all but five of the 20 World Cups, reaching the quarterfinals as host in both 1970 and 1986, but has been unable to better their record since last hosting the tournament 28 years ago.
On Sunday, the Mexicans excelled against a favored opponent that came into the game outscoring their group rivals 10-2. Mexico, using a 5-3-2 lineup, had only conceded once.
Ochoa was the main reason why.
And the Mexico goalkeeper was a key factor again on Sunday, making a seemingly impossible save in the 57th minute by getting his body in the way as Stefan de Vrij stabbed at the ball. The shot hit the goalkeeper and then bounced off the post.
Nine minutes later, the 28-year-old Ochoa crouched to block a goal-bound shot from Robben, who ran down the right and jumped clear of Marquez.
But shortly after Sneijder scored, Ochoa guessed wrong on Huntelaar's penalty, diving the wrong way and sending Mexico home.
"It isn't easy to go out this way, the way this match went," Ochoa said. "It's just very hard to deal with when victory escapes you this way."