Costa Rica snatch all three points in a shock 1-0 win over Japan – scoring with their first and only shot on target so far at the 2022 World Cup.
Costa Rica worked very well without the ball in the first half, the Central American side had clearly learned from their mistakes against Spain and were a lot more aggressive and quicker to pick up loose balls as well as making several terrific tackles. The issue was that when they had the ball they didn’t really know what to do with it.
Japan tried but failed to get a passing rhythm going, with Costa Rica’s shape making it difficult for the Asian side to play through the lines.
The first half passed by without a shot on target for either side and a plethora of fouls and misplaced passes.
Hajime Moriyasu made two changes at half-time and Japan greatly improved, having two shots on target within quick succession in the first two minutes of the second period.
As the game went on Japan committed more and more bodies up the field and started to get on the ball and dictate proceedings, showing much better invention on the ball to try and play through Costa Rica.
Costa Rica really struggled to get up the pitch as Japan increased their intensity, but 10 minutes from time Keysher Fuller found space to bend one in against the run of play with Costa Rica’s first shot on target of the World Cup! The Japan goalkeeper Shuichi Gonda did not cover himself in glory, he was far off his line and despite getting two hands on the effort he could not keep it out.
Japan pushed forward in search of an equaliser but could not break the Costa Rica defence down and the game ended 1-0. A result which has blown Group E wide open!
TALKING POINT – ONE SHOT ONE GOAL
Costa Rica never really looked like scoring, until they did! After failing to manage a single shot on target against Spain, they came into this one against a Japan side which were full of confidence after beating Germany. In an attacking sense it was much of the same for Costa Rica as it was against Spain, they struggled to get into good areas and when they did have an opportunity to play a through ball, it was usually a poor pass. They attempted six crosses and failed to complete a single one, they even failed to win a single corner. However, 10 minutes from time, Fuller stepped up with Costa Rica’s first shot on target at this World Cup, proving that it’s not necessarily about the number of chances you have, but what you do with the chances when you get them.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH – KEYSHER FULLER (COSTA RICA)
The 28-year-old right back was the match winner for Costa Rica, scoring the games only goal 10 minutes from time. Defensively though Fuller was also very steady, making four clearances, two tackles and winning five of his duels. He also used his experience at times to win free kicks and slow the game down when his side needed him to. In a match where there weren’t many standouts, it’s Fuller who will take all the praise for his solid performance.
JAPAN: Gonda 5, Yamane 6, Itakura 6, Yoshida 7, Nagatomo 6, Endo 5, Morita 6, Doan 6, Kamada 6, Soma 6, Ueda 6
SUBS: Ito 6, Mitoma 7, Junya Ito 6, Minamino 6, Asano 6
COSTA RICA: Navas 7, Oviedo 7, Calvo 7, Duarte 7, Waston 7, Torres 7, Tejeda 7, Borges 7, Fuller 8, Contreras 6, Campbell 7
SUBS: Salas 6, Bennette 6, Aguilera, 6, Chacon N/A
69′ FREE KICK Ito is through on goal and about to line up a shot but it is brought down by Calvo. He’s very lucky to avoid a red card as that looked a goal-scoring opportunity. The foul happened just on the edge of the box.
81′ GOAL! COSTA RICA! My word! Their first shot on target not only of this match but of the World Cup and they are 1-0 up, Fuller bends one in, the goalkeeper who is far too far off his line can’t keep it out.