San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Costa Rica beats Grenada, advances to next qualifying round for World Cup

The Costa Rican national soccer team scored a definitive 3-0 win over Grenada last night at the Ricardo Saprissa stadium in San José, giving the team their first win in 12 games and sending Costa Rica to the next regional qualifying round for the 2010 World Cup.

The game started with a smart pace, the Tico squad eager to make up for the scrappy first-leg draw with the Caribbean island nation last weekend.

Costa Rica drew first blood with a header in the 18th minute by Alvaro Saborío off a cross from Andrés Núñez. Then in the 31st minute, striker Bryan Ruiz followed-up on a deflected shot, knocking it in from the top of the penalty box for the second goal.

The second half was comparatively tamer as the Ticos settled into their lead.

Costa Rica saw a flurry of shots midway through the second half, including two shots at close range in front of an open net that got knocked wide and over, respectively, that should have gone in.

The team finally capitalized in the 89th minute when an unmarked Randall Azofeifa slipped in a shot at the far post of a wide-open goal for Costa Rica’s third goal.

Grenada, while demonstrating no fatal flaws in their play, were nonetheless unable to muster any potent attack. The teams shared possession fairly equally, but Costa Rica outperformed on shots on goal 5 to 0 in the first half, and then an even more lopsided 10 to 1 in the second half.

National team coach Hernan Medford’s job was widely considered to be on the line coming into the match, however that now looks secure, at least in the short-term as the Ticos move on to the next qualifying round.

Three of the 35 teams in the North and Central American qualifying region will ultimately qualify for the World Cup finals.

Having qualified for three of the past five World Cup tournaments, Costa Rica are usually considered a regional force.

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