French Guiana got reduced to ten men and Costa Rica pounced, allowing them to take a valuable 3-0 win over the Carribean side and go in the box seat of topping Group A in the Gold Cup at Toyota Stadium on Friday night.
“This was a must win for us, I wouldn’t say it’s the kind of win that is going to guide us through, but it’s a long tournament.” Said Costa Rican midfielder Rodney Wallace after the match, “the goals are important in the group stages… we would have liked another goal, but hopefully it’s enough, we’ll have to see.”
It took just four minutes for Costa Rica to open the scoring from a corner kick, that was poorly dealt with by the French Guianese defense. The two defenders swung at the ball, but missed it, falling for Ariel Rodriguez who was left wide open and easily tapped it home.
French Guiana’s chances took a big hit in the 61st minute when their star player, Ludovic Baal was shown a straight red card. He went in on David Guzman off the ball, raising his arms to Guzman, earning a straight red.
Costa Rica finally made that advantage count as a missed sliding challenge allowed Costa Rica to make it two. Marco Urena was able to square the ball back to Rodney Wallace, an all Major League Soccer connection, which ended with a Wallace tap-in.
The pressure continued and in the 84th minute Costa Rica made it three after a great run from David Ramirez. The ball was waited perfectly for Ramirez who ran on to it well and hit it powerfully past the goalkeeper.
Three goals put a lot of pressure on Canada playing second in the double header, but David Guzman, the Portland Timbers midfielder was not so sure. “I don’t know (if it is enough),” he said, “but it was a good performance and we need more strong performances.”
It could have been two in the 11th minute yet again from a corner which was perfectly swung in to find Michael Umana. Umana was able to get a header away but he sent it over the bar after getting under the ball.
French Guiana had their first meaningful chance in the 13th minute when Anthony Soubervie worked hard on the right and slid in to get the ball back. That allowed Soubervie to cross in for Loic Baal who just couldn’t leap high enough to get on the end of it.
“This has been a valuable experience for us,” said Soubervie after the match, “and it has been great for our nation, it is an honor. (Playing without Malouda) was frustrating, I am not sure about the situation but we have to live with the decision.”
Donovan Leon worked hard to keep his side in it making a strong save in the 23rd minute, smothering the rebound well. Just swell as Rodriguez was running into try and get on the rebound.
Only Dany Carvajal was keeping it 1-0 to Costa Roca in the 43rd minute when a clearance from Costa Rica didn’t go far enough. That ball fell to Ludovic Baal who shot powerfully but was denied by a great Carvajal save.
French Guiana had the first chance of the second half, coming in the 51st minute, after a strong cross from Soubervie. His ball was only denied by a sliding challenge from Umana, putting it out for a corner which came to naught.
Some incredibly fortunate defending saved French Guiana from conceding their second of the match after some neat work from Jose Salvatierra. Salvatierra did well to cut inside in the box and then cut the ball back but Gregory Lescot slid in to get on the end of the ball, putting it to goal but Leon held on to the ball.
In the 75th minute Costa Rica had another golden opportunity to double their lead, something they would need to keep pressure on Canada. Rodney Wallace found space on the edge of the area and shot powerfully, across the face of goal but just wide.
Only a great save from Leon kept it 2-0 as Urena was played clean through on goal in the 81st minute. Leon did well to dive in and grab the ball to keep Urena from becoming a goal scorer in the match.
French Guiana had one good chance to pull a consolation goal back in to the match as a corner was cleared only as far as Hugues Rosime. But he sent his shot wide of goal from a powerful volley, keeping it a 3-0 win for Costa Rica.