San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Costa Rica rolls on, takes first place in division

A heavily contested, though lightly defended, game against Trinidad and Tobago Saturday helped keep Costa Rica at the top of their division´s leader board for the qualifications for next summer´s World Cup.

Torrential rains in Trinidad slowed the pace of the game, though it did little to slow the action at each end of the pitch. A combination of careless defending and offensive persistence led to the high score, as the Ticos logged a 3-2 victory.

A first half full of almosts was broken by Trinidad and Tobago´s Carlos Edwards in the 29th minute on a free kick. The half ended in a draw when Costa Rica´s Alvaro Saborio scored five minutes before the half.

The second half was nearly as full of offensive promise as the first, and both teams took advantage of weak defensive clearances to test the net´s durability. With the score tied at 2, a calm, well-constructed attack ended with Costa Rica´s Celso Borges finding the back of the net for the second time in the 68th minute.

The rest of the game passed in nail-biting anxiousness for the Ticos, as they tried to hold on to their lead amid frantic attempts on goal on the part of Trinidad and Tobago.

With the Tico´s thorough trouncing of the United States Wednesday, they earned themselves first place in the North American, Central American and Caribbean division of the qualifiers for the 2010 World Cup, to be held in South Africa. They held on to the spot Saturday – two points ahead of the United States – amid big shakeups over the past week.

The United States came from behind Saturday night to beat Honduras 2-1, while El Salvador gave Mexico its second surprise defeat, also ending 2-1. Normally one of the dominant teams in the division, Mexico has lost three games so far in the qualifying round –in addition to El Salvador, to the United States and Honduras – and sits second from the bottom in the standings, just above Trinidad and Tobago.

The Ticos are two points ahead of the United States, with 12 points earned from four wins and one loss – the loss coming at the hands of Mexico in Mexico City. Costa Rica´s next game will be played away in Honduras on Aug. 12. They will host Mexico in San José on Sept. 5.

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