San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Costa Rica almost knocks off world champion Spain

The Costa Rican national soccer team Tuesday night looked stellar for more than 90 minutes against the reigning world champion Spain team, but in extra time the Ticos fumbled the upset, settling for a 2-2 draw at the National Stadium in west San José.

 In the pregame warm-ups, the crowd seemed more excited to see the Spaniards take the pitch. If the Chinese had built a roof on the stadium, it would have been torn right off by the roar of fans at Spain’s appearance on the field. The greeting Costa Rica received paled in comparison.
 Spain, hoping to bounce back after a 1-0 friendly defeat to England on Saturday, were listless in their attack in the first half of the contest, and the Ticos struck first.

Costa Rica’s Randall Brenes came close to glory in the 24th minute with a near miss. He found redemption in the 31st minute, driving into the goal box. Spanish keeper Iker Casillas, making his 127th appearance for Spain, charged the ball but slipped, allowing Brenes to put a harried chip shot into the back of the net.

Eleven minutes later, Joel Campbell broke through Spanish defenses and put the Ticos up 2-0 with a rocket from just inside the goal box.
 Spain, which has swept through its Euro qualifying campaign, has apparently found it harder to get the competitive juices flowing for friendlies.


Michael Barrantes (no. 11), of Costa Rica, battles with Juan Mata, of Spain, for the ball during an international friendly at the National Stadium that ended in a, 2-2, draw Tuesday afternoon.

Alberto Font

But in the second half, Spain finally showed why its squad won the 2010 World Cup, stepping things up in the second half after a spate of substitutions.
 Rain changed the dynamics of the game, and the visitors came back from the locker room with renewed determination. They dominated the second half, pushing hard on the Tico defenses, which held strong until David Silva fired one into the net for Spain in the 37th minute.

Down 2-1 at the end of regulation, Barcelona striker David Villa slipped the equalizing goal past Costa Rica’s Keylor Navas in the first minute of injury time, leaving the hosts stunned. Five more minutes of play did nothing to change the outcome, and the Ticos ended up with a hard-fought – and surprisingly disappointing – draw.

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