San José, Costa Rica, since 1956
Champions League

Trio of Tico stars face off in suspenseful Champions League battle

Costa Rica football’s golden generation continues to make its global imprint on the sport. When Real Madrid’s Keylor Navas and Sporting Clube de Portugal’s Bryan Ruíz started Tuesday’s Championship League match for their respective teams, it marked the first time two Ticos had ever had starting roles in the same Champions League game.

Navas’ Real Madrid edged out Sporting CP by a score of 2-1 in Lisbon, Portugal, and the defending Champions League winners have now clinched a spot in the tournament’s Round of 16.

The Costa Rican National Team was well represented in the match, as star Tico striker Joel Campbell also took the pitch when he subbed on in the 62nd minute for Sporting.

Ruíz had a chance to score on Navas in the 52nd when he was well-positioned in the box for a possible header. When the ball came back around, Ruíz attempted a bicycle kick that hit Varane in the face.

 

Sporting’s Costa Rican forward Bryan Ruiz (right) vies with Real Madrid’s French defender Raphael Varane during the UEFA Champions League football match Sporting CP vs Real Madrid CF at the Jose Alvalade stadium in Lisbon on November 22, 2016

Patricia de Melo Moreira/AFP

After entering in the second half, Campbell followed up his two-goal performance in last week’s World Cup qualifier win against the United States with another inspired showing off the bench for his club. The 24-year-old forward on loan from Arsenal of the English Premier League gave an obvious boost of energy to the Portuguese side in his first few minutes on the pitch.

Towards the end of the match, Campbell drew a penalty kick for his side after Madrid defender Fábio Coentrão inexplicably put his hand up and deflected Campbell’s try. Sporting captain Adrien Silva then sent home the tying score on the penalty as Navas dove to his right while the ball went left.

Even as his side was a man down, Campbell continued his solid play in the 82nd minute with a good run into the box. When help didn’t come from his teammates, the young striker was forced to put a shot on goal that Navas easily corralled.

In the 86th minute, Karim Benzema clinched the win for Real Madrid by heading home the team’s second goal on a great cross from Sergio Ramos.

As Real Madrid advances, Sporting is mathematically eliminated from advancing to the next round of Champions League play. When they return to league play in Portugal, Ruíz and Campbell will attempt to bring the first Primeira Liga title to Sporting in 14 years.

Navas and Real Madrid will also get set to resume play in Spain’s La Liga as they get ready for the December 3rd El Clásico against rival Barcelona.

 

Contact Michael Krumholtz at mkrumholtz@ticotimes.net

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