by Satish Sekar © Satish Sekar (June 14th 2014)


A stunning performance by Arsenalʼs seemingly permanent on loan Joel Campbell Samuels inspired Costa Rica to a magnificent 3-1 win over one of the pre-tournament favourites Uruguay. Edinson Cavani Gómezʼ 24th minute penalty gave Uruguay the lead after Diego Lugano Morena was fouled by Júnior Díaz Campbell. Uruguay were undone by a second half display of attacking football that is the hallmark of Colombian coach Jorge Pinto Afanador.

Campbell equalised after 54 minutes. Three minutes later Óscar Duarte Gaitán gave Costa Rica a shock lead that the supposed whipping boys of the group. Marcos Ureña Porras, got the third after 84 minutes. There was still time for an utterly disgraceful hack on Campbell by Maxi Pereira Páez to receive a well deserved red card from referee Felix Brych.

With the officiating at this tournament taking a beating Brychʼs performance restored credibility. He was right to give a penalty against Díaz despite the protests that Lugano went down too easily and theatrically. He did fall theatrically – his style – but there was no doubt that Díaz was impeding him with his arms around Luganoʼs waist. Although he immediately apologised Pereiraʼs offence was so disgraceful a red card doesnʼt seem enough.

The Young Maestro

Campbell’s display led to social media trending with Arsenal fans demanding that he should not be loaned out again – apparently there are work permit issues, although itʼs hard to see why. Campbell has been a fixture in Costa Ricaʼs national team for years. He inspired his team tonight with long range shooting and running at the defence which caused problems all night for Uruguayʼs defence and goalkeeper Fernando Muslera Micol.

He went close in the first half from 30 yards out with Muslera well beaten, but just before half-time a superb save by Levanteʼs Keylor Navas Gamboa kept Costa Rica in the match. A deflection off Duarte from veteran striker Diego Forlán Corrazoʼs shot sent Navas scurrying back to his line to tip the ball over – a crucial save.

That allowed Costa Rica to shine as Pintoʼs young side had a go at an ageing Uruguay shorn of their star Luís Suárez Díaz. Suárez could only watch in disbelief as Campbell shone. Cristian Gamboa Luna chased a seemingly lost cause – Bryan Ruiz Gonzálezʼ flick. He got to the right flank and his cross picked out Campbell near the edge of the area. His shot gave Muslera no chance. Costa Rica were level, but they knew that Óscar Tabárez Sclavoʼs team were there for the taking.

Uruguay had never been beaten by the Central Americans in ten previous attempts. The best that Costa Rica had achieved previously were score draws in 1959, 2001 and 2009, but traditions exist to be broken and history to be discarded in favour of making it. Costa Rica inspired by Campbell achieved that.


Duarte bravely dived to meet Ruizʼ free-kick heading past Muslera with Cristian Stuani Curbeloʼs boot perilously close to his head. Costa Rica had taken a seemingly improbable lead, but they wanted more. Another fierce strike from Campbell hit the stanchion before his exquisite pass split the defence for Ruizʼ replacement Ureña to score the third.

In injury time a despondent Pereira brutally hacked Campbell. He thoroughly deserved the straight red card that he was shown. On this showing Uruguay canʼt get Suárez back quickly enough and as we said before Costa Rica can play – Pintoʼs philosophy demands it.



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