Sunday, 12 June 2016
Costa Rica vs. Colombia shows the beauty of soccer where everyone has nothing to lose
o Saturday night, a Copa America game with very low stakes was played between Colombia and Costa Rica. Colombia were already assured of going through to the quarterfinal. Costa Rica were already eliminated. Colombia just needed one point to assure themselves of winning the group, and they elected to make a whopping ten changes to their starting lineup because of how largely unimportant this match was to them. It had all the makings of being a dull, unexciting game.
It was anything but.
This game had everything. Everything. It was played at a wild, end-to-end pace, with both teams flying up and down the pitch. There were two goals in the first ten minutes, both set up by sublime runs from unlikely players. It had a couple of absolutely wonderful goals, especially the strike from Costa Rica's Celso Borges to give his team a shocking 3-1 lead. It had an own goal, it had nutmegs, it had exciting dribbles -- this game truly had something for everyone.
Just look at the night Frank Fabra had. The Colombian fullback scored his team's opening goal to level it at 1-1 after a scintillating run -- then ten minutes later he was laid out on the turf with a gash over his eye after taking an accidental knee to the face.
After he was patched up, Fabra came back on and continued to play quite well -- but he had a moment he'll never forget when he botched an attempt at clearing a cross in front of goal, putting it into his own net instead. Fabra kept playing well, though, and was a big part of Colombia's push for an equalizer -- but then he got caught out and was partly to blame for Borges' goal in the second half.
The sheer chaos and back-and-forth nature of Fabra's night was a microcosm of the game as a whole. It was deliriously bizarre, with so many swings in momentum and more big moments at both ends of the pitch than you could count. A crowd that, early in the match, seemed like they were ready for a boring night instead spent most of the game screaming their lungs out, with the game getting ever faster, and more and more fun as the clock wound down and the stakes rose higher.
In the end, Costa Rica pulled out an incredible upset, winning 3-2 and knocking Colombia off the top spot in the group. It was the unlikeliest of results, the one that seemed so far from possible after the U.S. battered the Ticos 4-0 in their last match and Colombia cruised through their first two. Even with Colombia's reserves in the match, they should have stood a chance. This should have been a boring game -- but it was anything but, and everyone who watched got to enjoy an absolute treasure of a game instead.