My personal blog on Scottish Women's Football
Spain squandered numerous second-half opportunities to be frustrated by a determined and youthful Costa Rican side. Costa Rica, who have the tournament’s youngest average age of 22 years and 11 months – as well as the youngest player in Gloriana Villalobos who is only 15 – put on a display that they would be proud of.
It was Spain who took the lead in the 13th minute through a cleverly worked short corner allowed Vicky Losada to score. But it took just 74 seconds for Costa Rica to equalise when a quick attack was converted by Rodriguez Cedeno.
And despite dominating, with 19 attempts on goal, Spain could never find a way of restoring their lead. Notably, Natalie Pablos missed glorious chances, but late on Losada looked like she had scored only to be denied by a wonderful save from the Costa Rican keeper Dinnia Diaz.
Both sides were making their World Cup debuts, but with Spain 23 places above in the World Ranking, it was the Spanish who were the favourites. And they started with the characteristic possession based football that has become synonymous with the country.
Spain had the first chance of the game, and it came from a corner. Sonia Bermudez’s ball picked out Irene Paredes who headed into the ground, but on the bounce it was caught by Diaz. Minutes later, there was a nervous moment for Costa Rica as Diaz dropped the ball from a free-kick, but she was rescued by her defenders.
And then Spain took the lead. Whilst the Costa Ricans were preparing for the corner, Spain played it short to Sonia who picked out Losada. She turned her marker and then curled the ball into the bottom left corner.
Their lead lasted 74 seconds. A wonderful run from Lixy Rodriguez saw her break into the box and to the byline. Her cut-back took out the keeper and gave Raquel Rodriguez Cedeno an empty goal to score into, and she fully obliged.
Both sides had a chance to take the lead shortly afterwards. Sonia’s corner picked out Paredes, but her header was superbly headed clear by Katherine Alvarado. And then Maria Barrantes was played into the box, but the Costa Rican shot across goal and wide of the left post.
The early stages of the second half were defined by Spain squandering golden opportunities to score. Sonia’s cross picked out Pablos six yards from goal, but she failed to get the ball under control allowing Costa Rica to clear. Minutes later, Landa’s cross picked out Pablos but she headed wide of the far post. And then, lovely skill from Veronica Boquete saw her break into the box and as she attracted several defenders, passed to the unmarked Hermoso. She took her time but despite the space she was in, failed to hit the target.
And then Sonia was played into the box, and her shot was only kept out by a brilliant block Wendy Acosta. The Costa Rican defender was wise in making sure she didn’t accidentally hand-ball that shot.
Spain kept on coming. Delightful trickery from Boquete sees her brush away three defenders to set up Sonia who shot with the outside of her right foot, but the effort curled just wide of the right post.
In the final stages, Spain had a further three great chances. Priscilla Borja, who had only just come on, broke down the left and the ball was passed to Losada, who curled the ball towards the top left corner, only to be denied by Diaz’s flying save. Seconds later, the ball was worked into Pablos but she failed to hit the target. And then in the 90th minute, Borja shot straight at Diaz.
Although Spain dominated the chances, the point is what a very impressive Costa Rica deserved to gain.
Woman of the Match
There are a number of Costa Rican players I could award this to, but I am going for Spain’s captain Veronica Boquete after an impressive creative display.
Spain: Ainhoa Tirapu, Celia Jimenez (Ruth Garcia 62), Marta Torrejon, Irene Paredes, Leire Landa, Vicky Losada, Alexia Putellas, Natalia Pablos, Veronica Boquete, Sonia Bermudez (Marta Corredera 72), Jennifer Hermoso (Priscila Borja 84).
Goal: Vicky Losada 13
Booked: Celia Jiminez 44.
Costa Rica: Dinnia Diaz, Diana Saenz, Carol Sanchez, Wendy Acosta, Lixy Rodriguez, Melissa Herrera (Gabriela Guillen 88), Shirley Cruz, Katherine Alvarado, Raquel Rodriquez Cedeno, Maria Barrantes (Karla Villalobos 74), Carolina Venegas (Cristin Granados 80)
Goal: Raquel Rodriguez Cedeno 14.