Saturday, at the Estadio Castelao in Fortaleza, Brazil, the Uruguayan National Football Team was shocked by its opposite from Costa Rica 1-3 in the opening game of Group D.
This was might have been a surprise but it was also a well-earned win. Costa Rica was the better team on the evening and the usually prescient Uruguayan coach, Oscar Tabarez, did not make the right moves with his substitutions.
The first goal was Uruguay’s, a penalty awarded at the 24th minute for a take-down of Diego Lugano in the box during a corner was expertly converted by Edinson Cavani. The striker place the ball with lots of pace next to the right post and Keylor Navas, who had guessed correctly had nothing to do.
The uneven officiating continued in this match after the respite in the Colombia-Greece match. This ref could have called several penalties on Lugano, Diego Godin, and Martin Caseres for fouls every bit as bad as the one he called against Costa Rica, but not one of the infractions was punished.
The first half ended with Uruguay ahead by that single score, but the game had been even and Costa Rica already was in the ascendancy as the whistle blew.
The second half began with a strong Costa Rican reaction to being behind and any number of plays could have brought about a score. Then, over a five minute period they scored twice.
The first, by Joel Campbell at the 54th was a blown coverage that saw the most dangerous striker on the Central American team having the time to chest down and chose his spot scoring from close range for the score that brought his team even.
Three minutes later a cross off a free-kick saw Oscar Duarte make a headlong dive for the ball and make contact despite having Caseres’ sliding foot in his face. The dive was at the far post and the beautifully angled header went in kissing the opposite post. Golazo! Costa Rica 2, Uruguay 1.
The Uruguayans could not find a response as the Costa Rican defense and midfield were always too well positioned. Finally, when they were putting everyone forward to get the score a counterattack found Marco Urena open on a great three pass breakaway and he slotted a long angled shot from right to left that Fernando Muslera simply could not reach.
At the 94th minute a petulant Maxi Pereira kicked out at a Costa Rican player, clearly not going for the ball but exercising his frustration and he was summarily awarded a red card. He will miss the next game when he will be sorely needed. When the ref blew his whistle the crowd erupted, they had just witnessed World Cup history.
Costa Rica, repeat, Costa Rica 3, Uruguay 1.
Much like the surprise Dutch win yesterday did to Spain in their group, this loss by Uruguay puts them at a great disadvantage with their next two matches against the likes of England and Italy. The fact that Luis Suarez could not play for Uruguay today points to his current physical condition and makes his appearance in the next match either a real doubt or a real risk.