In front of a very vocal pro-El Salvador crowd at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston a late equalizer sent the crowd home somewhat happy. Dustin Corea ran on to the ball at the far post to steal the point after what seemed a good enough performance from Costa Rica.
Unsurprisingly it was Costa Rica who started the match the brighter side as they looked to take it to El Salvador in the early going. Joel Campbell and Alvaro Saborio were looking especially dangerous for Costa Rica but Derby Carrillo was able to stop everything that came his way.
A big run from Jaime Alas gave El Salvador their first chance of the match as the defense slept and let him run through. Unfortunately for Alas, Esteban Alvarado was quick to react and rushed off his line to close the space, forcing Alas to shoot wide.
As the half wore on El Salvador were using the crowd to get more and more in to the match with Alas and Arturo Alvarez looking dangerous. Their best early chance came in the 18th minute as a corner allowed a set play but the header was too close to the keeper allowing Costa Rica to clear.
Alvarez had a great opportunity in the 27th minute as his great footwork allowed him to get in the box and in space but he was denied by a great Alvarado save. That set up a corner for El Salvador but it came to nothing as Costa Rica were able to clear thanks to an offside flag later on the play.
A poor clearance from Carillo gave Costa Rica a wide open invitation as his punch could only get as far as Bryan Ruiz. That left Carillo scrambling but he was let off the hook as Ruiz shot well wide of goal, which kept it scoreless at half time.
The two sides fought hard in the opening stages of the second half as the physicality of the match ramped up. That lead to plenty of cards and plenty of set piece opportunities but neither side could produce.
El Salvador should have hit the lead in the 58th minute when Pabo Punyed sent a perfectly weighted through ball for Irvin Herrera. But Herrera could not capitalize shooting it right at Alvarado to keep El Salvador out.
At the other end just one minute later Costa Rica should have hit the lead as a tempting cross was played across the face for Alvaro Saborio. But Saborio just could not get the final touch on the ball, which kept the match scoreless.
But that was only a temporary stay of execution for El Salvador as Costa Rica had the goal they wanted on the hour mark. Saborio flicked the ball over his head and over the El Salvador defense which played in Bryan Ruiz in a tight angle but he sent it across the keeper and in to the back of the net to give Costa Rica a vital lead.
The Costa Ricans kept the momentum up and nearly doubled their lead just three minutes later thanks to a set piece. With a free-kick in a good position Ruiz shot but was denied by a good save low from Carrillo to keep it 1-0.
El Salvador had their best chance in the 67th minute as an effort from Punyed was blocked. That saw Alexander Larin rush on to it and hit a powerful effort from 30 yards out that was just too close to Esteban Alvarado.
Costa Rica really did a clinical job after taking the lead as they shut up shop well and looked to really only do their attacking from the counter. That cut off El Salvador’s chances, which were not helped by that final ball, too often being hit just a little too far forward.
El Salvador managed to get their goal late in the match just before it ticked over in to stoppage time as the ball was swung in to the far post. That allowed Dustin Corea to run on to the ball and volley it home sealing the 1-1 draw.