Jun 16, 2014

    Uruguay falls without Suarez


    COSTA Rica hit three second-half goals to beat Uruguay 3-1 on Saturday and severely dent the World Cup hopes of the fancied South American nation who struggled without star striker Luis Suarez.

    Uruguay, fourth-place finishers in South Africa in 2010, were expected to battle Italy and England for the two qualifying places from Group D into the last 16. That has now been made more difficult.

    Edinson Cavani gave Oscar Tabarez's side a first-half lead from the penalty spot. But Uruguay fell apart in the second half when Joel Campbell slammed in a shot and Oscar Duarte's header gave Costa Rica a 2-1 lead.

    Six minutes from the final whistle, Uruguay's defence slipped up again. Marcos Urena was allowed to run in and place the ball under goalkeeper Fernando Muslera.

    Costa Rica's Colombian coach, Jorge Luis Pinto, paid tribute to Campbell: "He's a man who unsettles you, he surprises, changes the tempo, he was uncontainable for the Uruguay defence."

    Tabarez refused to rule out his side's chances of progressing but admitted they face a struggle. "That was a very tough defeat but not because we couldn't afford to lose," he said. "Things are more difficult now than they were at the beginning but we have to defend the prestige we've won over the last few years."

    Tabarez left Suarez on the bench in a bid to give the Liverpool striker more time following an operation to repair a damaged meniscus in his left knee just three weeks ago. Diego Forlan, 35, started alongside Paris Saint Germain striker Cavani.

    Uruguay won a penalty in the 23rd minute after skipper Diego Lugano was manhandled from behind by Junior Diaz as a probing cross came into the area.

    Navas guessed right, but the Costa Rican goalkeeper was not quick enough to stop Cavani's spot-kick from squeezing inside his left-hand post.

    Costa Rica fought back in the second half. Duarte stunned Uruguay when he ran in to beat Christian Stuani to a free kick whipped in from a distance, beating Muslera with a diving header from a tight angle.

    Suarez briefly warmed up on the touchline in what could have been an attempt to scare Costa Rica. But the underdogs were not intimidated. Six minutes from time, a superb defence-splitting pass from Campbell found Urena, who ran in virtually unchallenged to roll the ball under the advancing Muslera from a tight angle.