A dominant performance from Costa Rica saw it dispatch Bolivia which had two men sent off in the second half.
Second half goals from Josue Martinez and Joel Campbell gave Costa Rica a vital 2-0 win against Bolivia, which ended the game with nine men.
It could easily have been more for Costa Rica, which hit the woodwork twice, missed a penalty and threatened to run riot during the second half with a two man advantage.
With the majority of the fans inside the Estadio 23 de Agosto wearing green, it was perhaps no surprise that Bolivia was the more composed side during the opening exchange. And it was Bolivia which created the first real chance of the game in the 13th minute, when Juan Arce’s low cross caught the Costa Rican defense flat footed, but just missed the boot of the onrushing Marcelo Moreno.
After being largely restricted to hopeful punts up field, Costa Rica almost took a surprise lead on 28 minutes, when Ronald Raldes rose high to block Josue Martinez’ goal-bound header. The Costa Ricans had another chance two minutes later, when Joel Campbell’s brilliant through ball found Diego Madrigal one on one with the goalkeeper, but his dreadful first touch sent the ball closer to the center circle than to the goal.
This seemed to spark the Costa Ricans into life and the team finished the first half strongly with a new-found willingness to run at the Bolivian defense. This approach nearly paid off in the 39th minute, when Campbell’s trickery created space at the top of the box, but his shot went straight into the grateful arms of Carlos Arias.
Costa Rica eventually took the lead with a scrappy goal on the hour mark. Substitute Allen Guevarra did well to turn Raldes inside the box and squeeze a shot towards goal. Arias could only parry it in front of him, and Martinez reacted quickest to poke the ball home.
Five minutes later, Costa Rica nearly doubled its advantage when Campbell was brought down on the edge of the box by Ronald Rivero after a barnstorming run from midfield. Rivero received a yellow card, and Campbell himself stepped up to take the free kick, only to see it cannon back of the crossbar.
Bolivia was severely on the back foot at this point, and nearly threw the game away in the 70th minute. With the goal open following a one on one between Martinez and Arias, Rivero handled Mora’s goal bound shot in the box and was shown his second yellow card. Guevarra stepped up to the spot, but Arias produced a stunning double save, first from the penalty then from Guevarra’s attempted rebound.
Bolivia was down another man in the 77th minute, after Walter Flores was sent off for a challenge on Campbell on the edge of the area. It could have gotten even worse for Bolivia, but Francisco Calvo crashed the resulting free kick off the post.
Costa Rica did double its advantage two minutes later, after a great through ball by Mora found Campbell clean through on goal. The striker calmly finished into the corner to claim a deserved goal after a thoroughly impressive performance. Costa Rica played out the rest of the match with consummate ease, with Bolivia struggling to keep up given the two man deficit.
Costa Rica now sits in second place in Group A on three points, one ahead of Argentina, which it plays in four days time during the final round of group matches. Meanwhile Bolivia sinks to last place with a solitary point, and faces group leaders Columbia on Sunday.
Follow Goal.com on . Get the latest football news direct... Check out Goal.com's page; be part of the best football fan community in the world!