Costa Rica 0-1 Uruguay: Crucial Lugano Goal Brings South Americans Closer To World Cup 2010

The captain scored a crucial away tally to bring down ten-man Costa Rica in the first-leg...
Costa Rica 0-1 Uruguay - Lineups/Stats
World Cup 2010 - Path To Qualification

Uruguay have one foot in South Africa after claiming a 1-0 win over a spirited ten-man Costa Rica side, courtesy of a first-half strike from captain Diego Lugano in World Cup play-off action.

The proceedings began with plenty of niggling fouls by either side as they felt each other out in the first ten minutes.

The first real chance fell to Costa Rica midfielder Cristian Bolanos, who cut inside from the right, but his curling effort was straight at Lazio shot stopper Fernando Muslera in the Uruguay goal.

However, events took a dramatic turn on 22 minutes. Diego Forlan nearly scored a spectacular goal with a one-time that flashed across the face of goal, that was put out for a corner. From the set-piece, Forlan got his head to the ball and the Ticos defence failed to clear the danger, allowing centre-back Lugano to latch onto the loose ball and tap home from close range.

Despite initially looking shocked by the setback, Costa Rica had the better of the play in the last twenty minutes of the first 45 minutes. Bolanos, who had been one of the bright spots for the home side, put in a cross that was just too long for strikers Brian Ruiz and Alvaro Saborio.

The active Forlan did well to keep possession of 40 minutes, but his eventual attempt was well blocked. Meanwhile, Ruiz was becoming more and more involved to the delight of the Estadio Ricardo Saprissa.

A brilliant ball over the top by Randall Azofeifa found the Twente striker, but his looping header landed on top of the net with Muslera stranded as the half came to a close.

Costa Rica were fired up in the second-half to find an equaliser and winger Esteban Sirias made headway down the left and put in a tantalising cross. It was cut out by the defence, possibly with the use of a hand, but the referee waved play on.

A crucial moment occurred soon after, as the hosts were reduced to ten men. Randall Azofeifa was sent off for a second bookable offence in midfield.

Despite the numerical setback, Bolanos saw his effort skip just wide of the far post on 56 minutes and Saborio laid the ball off nicely for Walter Centeno - although the shot was too close to Muslera - it was a routine save.

Forlan went on a trademark run, darting into the box, but he amazingly blazed it well over after doing the hard work.

Substitute Rolando Fonseca added some much needed creativity to the Ticos strike force. He spun past Diego Godin and hit a dangerous low cross which took a deflection and landed just wide of the goal with everyone watching.

After that, Costa Rica visibly began to tire and Uruguay almost managed second goal in injury time when Rodrigo Fernandez had his header cleared off the line.

In the end Uruguay are much closer of qualifying for the 2010 World Cup and Costa Rica have a mountain to climb in Montevideo on Wednesday night, despite a never-say-die attitude in the first-leg.

Adam Scime,