By Issy Ronald, CNN
Costa Rica stunned Japan with a 1-0 win, thanks to an 81st-minute goal by Keysher Fuller, and kept their hopes of qualifying for the World Cup round of 16 alive with three crucial points to draw with Spain and Japan in Group E.
Japan, fresh off an upset win over Germany which has given them a real shot at reaching the round of 16, failed to find a foothold in this game despite Costa Rica still licking their wounds from a punishing 7-0 loss against Spain.
It was a cautious and disappointing first 45 minutes, marked by haphazard passes from both sides as neither could get a single shot on goal.
Immediately after halftime, however, the pace immediately picked up with the introduction of two new faces for Japan: Takuma Asano and Hiroki Ito.
Hidemasa Morita slid into the penalty area and scored a shot on goal that Keylor Navas deflected.
Japan continued to press but were unable to capitalize and play soon returned to the tepid pace of the first half.
Then, against the flow of play, Costa Rica took advantage of a mistake on the edge of the box and Fuller spiked the ball into the top corner of the net, past Shuichi Gonda’s outstretched hand, for his team’s first shot. to door and first. tournament goal.
He silenced the Samurai Blue fans for the first time, whose stream of chants and drums had swept the stadium for much of the game, and roused the Costa Rican support with their own chants of “¡Oe Oe Ticos!” it became stronger.
With just nine minutes remaining in regulation, Japan saw their hopes of sealing a place in the knockout stages fade, and Navas seized a late opportunity with the ball bouncing around the box as Costa Rica held on for victory.
With Spain and Germany playing later on Sunday, the fate of both teams will be decided on the final day.
The CNN Wire
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