PRE – With Brazil having won two-from-two, it’s now a mad scramble for second, with both of these sides knowing a win here will give them an edge going into the final day. The impetus is greater on South Korea, who still have to face those Brazilians. But the Asian side also knows that they can take nothing for granted with a tricky Spain coming up. They’ll need to improve greatly upon their performance against Brazil, where some suicidal defending cost them dearly.
2’ – South Korea with the match’s first chance, as she beats Lixy Rodriguez to the endline, with her cross being half-cleared. Yoo manages to get the rebound, turns, and shoots, but right at Diaz, who clutches safely.
5’ – Costa Rica a little wobbly early, as Carol Sanchez misses her header on a long ball forward, letting Ji So-Yun nearly get onto it. Diaz off her line to grab though.
6’ – Diaz saved Costa Rica early, but she almost coughs one up there, as Ji takes a tame shot that she should catch but spills. Her defenders screen off attackers though, allowing her to catch.
7’ – The Costa Rica backline is all over the place, and Diaz has to come out a long way to sweep away from Yoo.
8’ – The siege on the Costa Rican goal continues, as Kang gets endline and crosses. Ji (?) basically runs into the ball on a late rush into the box, and Costa Rica clear. Replay shows Carol Sanchez spiked Ji in the knee with a late boot. Penalty shout?
12’ – Close for Costa Rica, as Raquel Rodriguez shimmies on the ball a little and misses the goal by a whisker on a long-range effort.
13’ – It’s all-action at the moment, as Kwon’s swerving, dipping shot from the edge of the area is desperately tipped over by Diaz.
17’ – GOAL – Costa Rica (Herrera) – Bizarre goal for the Central American side! Free kick by Alvarado at the midfield stripe is allowed to bounce in the box and is dinked by Herrera over the charging Kim Jungmi. South Korea clear but not before it clearly crosses the line.
20’ – PENALTY – South Korea (Ji) – More follies in the area. A chip in the area causes chaos in the box, with the ball eventually bouncing to Yoo. Granados (!) is all the way back to defend, and she’s hard done by, as the forward makes an absolute meal out of minimal contact. Ji sends Diaz the wrong way to equalize.
22’ – Yoo almost gives South Korea another goal, as she fires from the edge of the area, forcing Diaz into another save. Carol Sanchez, who’s had a nightmare early, tripped on the play, giving up the chance.
22’ – Granados goes down under contact from Lee Eunmi, but it wasn’t particularly meaningful contact, with the referee agreeing and waving play on.
24’ – It’s non-stop offense at the moment, as Yoo targets a header at goal, but Diaz catches firmly. There are more goals to be had.
25’ – GOAL – South Korea (Jeon) – See what I mean? Hyeri goes on an underlapping run, with Kang giving it to the full-back. She crosses first-time, and it’s a fine one, with Jeon Gaeul darting in to whip a header across the face of goal. Fabulous team goal. Carol Sanchez was the defender beaten in the air. She’s been woeful thus far.
31’ – South Korean move breaks down, and Costa Rica counter the other way through Saenz. She plays a nice ball through to Granados, but she’s shouldered off the ball by Shim. Fans not pleased.
35’ – Carol Sanchez is just useless in the air, as she mistimes another header in the box off a chip from Cho. Ji looks to get on it, but Costa Rica hoof clear eventually.
43’ – Right off the training ground for South Korea, as Lee Eunmi runs over the ball before getting the short pass out wide. Lee tries to shoot from a really sharp angle, and it goes well wide.
44’ – Yoo sweeps Cruz’s legs out from under her. It’s probably Cruz’s biggest contribution in a rather silent half. South Korea clears from the scrum in the box on the delivery.
45’ + 1’ – Well, there’s another contribution. Cruz gets fouled, gets up and lightly shoves the miscreant. It’s all much ado about nothing, and the teams go into the tunnel for the half.
HT – An exciting, if not a bit chaotic half of football, as both sides are plowing forward with abandon. The defending hasn’t been that impressive for either side, but neither of these teams really has a true superstar #9 to take advantage. More of the same in the second half, please, including another goal or two.
49’ – South Korea should have a stonewall penalty. Saenz steps on Yoo’s foot and brings her down with her foot right on the line, which should be considered part of the area, thus a penalty. Referee says otherwise and gives a free kick on the left edge of the box. Announcers agree with decision. I do not. Jeon gets it over the wall, and Diaz is forced to bat it away. Costa Rica swoops in to clear just after.
52’ – Long ball towards Jeon is chased down by Carol Sanchez, who in typical fashion shanks a clearance right to Kang. The South Korean cuts back but sees her shot blocked, with Diaz pouncing on the bouncing ball.
55’ – Jeon whips in a free kick from the near side. A bullet header is blocked by Costa Rica at the six before being popped in the air and half-cleared.
62’ – Costa Rica putting pressure on, but they also aren’t doing much more than creating half-chances. Kim Jungmi hasn’t been forced into a big save since the break.
63’ – SUB – Jung Seolbin comes on for winger Kang Yumi. They’ve gotta be trying to turn the tide back their way after some momentum has swung towards Costa Rica.
65’ – Couple of wonky touches by Costa Rica allows Kwon to swoop in and intercept. She passes wide to Jeon, who tries her luck to the far post but puts it just wide. Better from the Asian side.
70’ – YELLOW CARD – South Korea (Hyeri) – For time wasting on a throw-in. Yes, there’s twenty minutes plus remaining.
75’ – With none of her teammates seemingly able to find the target, full-back Lixy Rodriguez takes matters into her own hands, building up a head of steam before crashing a shot off the upper-left corner of the frame. Close to an equalizer.
75’ – SUB – Costa Rica brings on Karla Villalobos for left-winger Maria Barrantes.
76’ – Ji spins past Saenz and edges past Carol Sanchez before playing a no-look cutback that’s just behind the stride of Jung. Jeon’s shot is blocked, and eventually, Costa Rica clear.
77’ – SUB – South Korea bring off center-forward Yoo Younga for Lee Geummin.
80’ – Lee Geummin tries to weave through four different Costa Rican defenders and manages to get a cross to the six off, but it’s just away from the head of fellow sub Jung Seolbin.
81’ – YELLOW CARD – South Korea (Lee Geummin) – OK, that was less sporting from the South Korean sub, as she’s beat by Cruz and responds by hipchecking her to the turf.
83’ – Granados goes over after an elbow in the back in the area from Shim, but the referee plays on. Partisan crowd not thrilled.
84’ – SUB – Last throw of the dice for South Korea, as they bring on Lim Seonjoo for right-back Kim Hyeri.
86’ – YELLOW CARD – South Korea (Hwang) – At one end, South Korea try to put it on ice with a third, but Costa Rica blocks their efforts. Cruz tries breaking the other way, but Hwang breaks up the counter and gets booked for the tactical foul.
87’ – Jung’s fresh legs showing here, as she cuts inside and outraces three defenders to the six, but her square ball is defended excellently by Lixy Rodriguez. Grandstand finish here.
89’ – South Korea not showing much clock management nous here. They keep trying to find the killer ball instead of taking it to the corner flag.
89’ – GOAL – Costa Rica (K. Villalobos) – Route One, how do you do. Carol Sanchez may be useless in the air, but she just delivered a magnificent ball over the top of the South Korean backline. Makeshift right-back Shim first holds Villalobos onside before the diagonal run of the sub catches her out. For her part, Villalobos does brilliantly to bring it down before popping it up over the charging Kim Jungmi for the equalizer.
90’ + 3’ – Oh my lord, they nearly won it. Alvarado takes a long free kick from the far side and attempts to rocket a shot to the far post. Jungmi’s not expecting it and has to be counting her blessings as it whistles wide.
FT – Obviously, Costa Rica the much happier of the sides, though their odds of advancing still aren’t great. South Korean realistically could’ve been free and clear had they been given the penalty they should’ve been early in the second half. But while Ji had a better game here than in the opener, her teammates showed too little of a cutting edge on the whole. More to the point, they also didn’t show enough field intelligence late, when they could’ve taken the ball to the corner flag instead of trying their luck at a third goal. Costa Rica didn’t create much, but they did make the most of their few opportunities, including on an expertly crafted winner. It’s telling that Costa Rica’s sub, Villalobos, beat Shim to the ball, with the center-back having been forced right by South Korea having taken off Hyeri. It marked a clear tactical victory for Valverde, as her side pressed on for a much deserved point in a chaotic but entertaining match.