Costa Rica is ‘alive’ at the World Cup after a late win over Japan
DOHA: Luis Fernando Suarez said his Costa Rican side were “still alive” in the World Cup after their 1-0 victory over Japan on Sunday blew Group E wide open – and gave a potential lifeline to Germany.
Japan, who shocked 4-time defending champions Germany 2-1 in their opening match in Qatar, would have taken a giant step towards the last 16 with a win.
Instead, they struggled in the first half against Costa Rica who were beaten 7-0 by Spain, then defender Kesher Fuller scored in the 81st minute with a counter-attack shot.
It was Costa Rica’s first shot on goal in a World Cup and left them, leaders Spain and Japan, all with three points. Spain will face Germany later on Sunday in a group widely seen as the toughest of the tournament.
“These players did amazing things today. I’m not going to talk about style or tactics. Today I need to appreciate and appreciate what they did to achieve this win,” said Suarez, whose team meets Germany on Thursday.
“We did not die yesterday and now we are still alive. No one can forget about us until now until we are still dreaming.
“People thought we really went out but we’re in this together.”
Japan made five changes to the squad that stunned Germany as coach Hajime Moriyasu made full use of his 26-man squad.
In the 32 °C (90 °F) temperatures of Ahmed Bin Ali Stadium, Japan immediately went on the attack and won a corner kick within 30 seconds.
Suarez made just two changes to the side Spain beat, Gerson Torres and 34-year-old Kendall and Aston backline to take their place in the aging four-man squad from the 2014 World Cup quarter-finals.
But Japan’s early promise melted in the Doha sun and their first shot on goal – a dreadful effort that flew high and wide – did not come until 10 minutes after half-time through Costa Rica’s Joel Campbell.
A dismal first half drew to a close as Los Tecos had more of the ball but neither side had a shot on goal.
Moriyasu had seen enough and made a double change at the break, one being the introduction of Bundesliga pro striker Takuma Asano, who scored the winning goal against the Germans.
The Samurai Blue were more consistent right away and quarterback Hidemasa Morita made the first save of the game within seconds of the restart.
Yoshida rallies Japan after disappointing Costa Rica
Japan captain Maya Yoshida urged his side to stick together after losing 1-0 to Costa Rica on Sunday and believes a place in the knockout round is still within their reach.
Yoshida said the Samurai Blue struggled to get off the peak of their victory over Germany in their opening match and found it “difficult” to prepare for Costa Rica, who were knocked out 7-0 by Spain.
“We didn’t have the same mentality as against Germany today, maybe – that was our big mistake,” Yoshida said after losing to Costa Rica, who scored in the 81st minute with his first shot on goal.
“It’s very easy to say we give up. Our strength is solidarity and unity. Once again, we need to stick together and try to get the three points in the next game.”
Japan looked like a shadow of a vibrant side who relegated once again to stun Germany as they toiled against defence-minded Costa Rica.
He said, “After the great victory against Germany and the great defeat of Costa Rica against Spain, the preparations were very difficult mentally. I’ve been asking myself for the past three days, are you ready? I asked the team too.”
Japan had the lion’s share of possession but failed to get many clear chances against a Costa Rica team that was playing with five defenders.