Trinidad and Tobago football fans and others in North, Central America and the Caribbean in particular shared in the roller-coaster of emotions that highlighted this past weekend of football’s World Cup finals, moreso yesterday’s two games featuring Central American teams Costa Rica and Mexico.
Global Cup favourites Brazil kept their world fans on edgy street with a penalty-kicking win over uncompromising fellow South Americans Chile in Saturday’s Round of 16 first match. And in Saturday’s other all-south America match-up, haunting memories of Uruguayan Luis Suarez’ ill-fated Group stage biting incident re-surfaced as Colombia and their two-goal match-winner James Rodriguez ended Uruguay’s campaign within days of Suarez’s expulsion.
Yesterday for what was a double-header match-up of Central America versus Europe, it was Trinidad and Tobago’s Central American CONCACAF fellow member teams Costa Rica and Mexico that counted additional fan support from their English-speaking “amigos”.
And it was high drama as gutsy Mexico lost to Netherlands 2-1 and more drama and thrill as Costa Rica took a historic stride with victory over Greece.
Netherlands dramatically scored twice in the final moments to come from behind and beat Mexico in their World Cup last-16 clash in Fortaleza.
The hot and humid conditions in Fortaleza meant that one cooling break was allowed per half to allow the players to take on fluids.
Mexico broke the deadlock just three minutes after the resumption when Giovanni Dos Santos rifled a bouncing ball low into the corner from 25 yards.
It looked like the Dutch would go out in the first knockout stage after winning every single group game until Wesley Sneijder scored with two minutes of normal time remaining.
Netherlands then hit Mexico with an injury-time penalty from substitute Klaas-Jan Huntelaar after Arjen Robben had been brought down in the box by Rafael Marquez and from a position of a likely win Mexico were down and out.
Costa Rica however made their CONCACAF backers joyous enough after beating Greece 5-3 in a thrilling penalty shootout in Recife.
The win qualified Costa Rica for the quarter-finals and a meeting with Netherlands on Saturday.
The scoring breakthrough came seven minutes after halftime when Ruiz steered a low pass into the bottom corner of the net with Orestis Karnezis left rooted to the spot.
Then, as the game entered injury time, centre-back Sokratis Papastathopoulos levelled the contest as he tapped home after Theofanis Gekas’s shot on the turn was pushed into his path by goalkeeper Keylor Navas.
Close scoring calls but no goals in the extra 30-minute period and the deciding spot kicks came.
Seven perfectly executed penalties from both sides saw Costa Rica hold a slender 4-3 lead, but Navas’s save from the Greek’s fourth handed Costa Rica the winning chance and Michael Umana made no mistake – Costa Rica 5 – Greece 3.
Today it’s Africa verus Europe as Nigeria face France and Algeria take on Germany.