San José, Costa Rica, since 1956
Keylor Navas

Costa Rican Keylor Navas keeps historic Champions League shutout streak alive

The pride of Costa Rica continues to shoot up the record books on football’s biggest stage. With a 2-0 Real Madrid win over Roma in the Champions League Round of 16 match on Wednesday, goalie Keylor Navas has extended his shutout streak to 630 minutes.

Roma’s attack failed to test Navas in net for the entirety of the first half but kept the Costa Rican plenty busy in the second period.

In the 54th minute, Roma’s Stephan El Shaarawy broke away down the left half of the field with a defender trailing him when Navas came far out of goal to make a sliding save that kicked the ball from El Shaarawy and kept the score at 0-0. Minutes later, Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo responded with a golazo that broke the ice for Madrid, which started to bombard Roma’s defense with constant pressure.

Navas has yet to allow a goal in his five Champions League starts this season. Including two Champions League shutout starts with Madrid last year, Navas’ scoreless streak now in his Champions League career ranks as the third longest of all-time, according to noted football statistician Alexis Martín-Tamayo, aka Mr. Chip.

On several occasions during the first leg of the Champions League Round of 16, Roma nearly ended the scoreless streak by getting through the notoriously inconsistent Madrid defense. Reminiscent of Navas’ last Champions League start against Paris St. Germain, a couple shots ended up going just inches past the goal posts. In the match against Paris, Navas broke the record for the longest a goalkeeper has gone without conceding a goal since his debut. Navas is now 223 minutes, or about two and a half games, from eclipsing the longest stretch of any kind without allowing a goal in Champions League.

In what was manager Zinedine Zidane’s most important game in his month and a half at the helm, Real Madrid’s defense looked somewhat improved against the Italian side.

An 87th minute goal by Jesé not only put the game away, but gave Los Merengues an important two-goal lead going into the second and final leg, meaning Roma would need to beat Madrid by three goals to keep the Spanish from advancing to the quarterfinals of Europe’s most biggest club-level tournament.

Madrid returns to Champion’s League action for its second game against Roma on March 8.

Contact Michael Krumholtz at mkrumholtz@ticotimes.net

Log in to comment