Costa Rica’s football stars are delivering some clutch performances for their European clubs. Just one day after striker Joel Campbell helped Arsenal qualify for the Champions League Round of 16, another Tico led his team to advance in a European tournament.
Bryan Ruíz, the Costa Rican captain and forward for Portuguese club Sporting Lisbon, scored in the 71st minute of his club’s decisive Europea League group stage match against Turkey’s Besiktas on Thursday with a powerful strike that gave Lisbon a 2-1 lead. Despite being down 1-0 at halftime, Ruíz’s club ended up winning 3-1 over the Turks, making Sporting Lisbon one of two qualifiers from Group H that will advance to the tournament’s Round of 32.
Ruíz, who registered an assist on the first goal in the 67th minute, came back minutes later to give Sporting an advantage it wouldn’t let go of.
Heading in to the match, Besiktas held a two-point advantage over Lisbon, meaning a win or a tie would have sent the Portuguese side home early. But thanks in large part to Ruíz’s brilliance on the first two Lisbon goals, it’s Besiktas that is eliminated from the next round of Europa League action.
Ruíz and company will return to action on Feb. 18 to play the first of two legs against an opponent that is still to be decided.
Russia’s Lokomotiv Moskva, who Ruíz scored against in Lisbon’s last Europa League outing, won Group H with 11 points.