Costa Rica beats Kiwis to book FIFA WC spot

Doha : Forty years on from their first FIFA World Cup appearance, a courageous New Zealand side has been denied by Costa Rica to take the final place at FIFA World Cup 2022, going down 1-0 at Ahmed bin Ali Stadium.

All Whites head coach Danny Hay named nine of the starting XI who took on Peru in last week’s warm-up game, with Nando Pijnaker coming in for Tommy Smith in the back three and Clayton Lewis in the place of Marko Stamanic, while Callum McCowatt and Marco Rojas ruled out of the matchday squad due to illness.

The All Whites went behind early, after Joel Campbell ghosted in between Pijnaker and Clayton Lewis to latch onto the ball and guide it past Oli Sail and into the far corner to give the FIFA world 31-ranked Costa Rica side the lead in the third minute.

While not the start the Kiwis were after, this sparked the All Whites into applying sustained attacking pressure, and they went on to dominate the rest of the first half. Grieve came closes to equalising on the 11th minute after Chris Wood cushioned down a long ball to the oncoming Grieve, whose volley from just inside the penalty area after a well-timed late run narrowly flashed wide of Keylor Navas’s goal.

The New Zealanders continued to apply pressure on the Costa Rica defence, as Wood again cushioned a header down three minutes later in the 18 yard box, this time for teenage midfielder Matthew Garbett, who shot over the bar. In the 37th minute Chris Wood was bundled to the ground, but his penalty appeal was denied.

Two minutes later he had the ball in the back of the net following a flowing move from the side. Defender Pijnaker played in Garbett who whipped the ball into the box and Wood, surrounded by four Costa Rican defenders, slammed the ball home from the edge of the six yard box slams the ball home.

VAR however, judged Matt Garbett to have downed Oscar Duarte during a 50-50 challenge as he received the ball, and the goal did not stand. Despite dominating the first half, the All Whites headed into the changing rooms at half time 1-0 down.