Brazil U20 1-0 Costa Rica U20: Faltering Brazil Squeeze Into Final Of U-20 World Cup
A fabulous goal midway through the second half quite out of keeping with a scrappy match from Alan Kardec settled the game in the favour of Brazil. Whilst the pre-tournament favourites were far from the fluid best, they go through to Friday’s final to meet Ghana in a repeat of the 1993 World Youth Championships final, which went the way of the South Americans.
The opening minutes were somewhat cagey between both sides, as both were missing key first choice players, especially in defence. In addition to that handicap, Costa Rica were perhaps also painfully aware of the 5-0 hammering meted out to them in the first group match by Brazil.
It took until just before the 15 minute mark for Brazil to create any sort of significant opening, which arrived via a dead-ball. An initial free-kick was sent in on target forcing Esteban Alvarado in the Costa Rican goal into action to tip over the bar. The resulting corner kick was met at the far post by centre-back Rafael Toloi, but despite enjoying time and space, the Goias defender failed to get his low effort on target.
That action seemed to spur Costa Rica into action, and they showed that Brazil weren’t the only team on the pitch capable of creating something from a free-kick. David Guzman sent a fizzing free-kick drive through the middle, which obliged Renan in the Brazilian goal to tip over for a corner. The corner kick, like the one for Brazil moments earlier, also represented an excellent chance, which again was missed by reserve right-back Ricardo Blanco at the far post, letting the Seleaco off the hook after some debatable defending.
Brazil gradually started to dominate possession forcing Los Ticos back into their own half, and obliging the Central Americans to drop deep to cope with the increasingly confident Brazilians. In stark contrast to the first semi-final between Ghana and Hungary, which was a riot of goal mouth action, clear cut chances were definitely at a premium in the second match. After the brief flurry of action around the quarter of an hour mark, the sparse crowd in Cairo had to wait another 15 minutes for Brazil to look remotely dangerous again; Paulo Henrique, trying his luck from long range with a low drive that drifted wide of the target.
Brazil came close to breaking the dead-lock on 40 minutes when right back Diego raided forward down the flank, delivering an interesting ball into the box. Arguably the best Brazilian player at the tournament, so far, Alex Teixeira rose to force the ball goal-wards, but Alvarado in the Costa Rica goal was well-placed to gather the ball into his midriff.
That chance seemed to urge Brazil on, and a neat interchange between Guiliano and Souza, gave the latter a chance to strike at goal, which was deflected behind for a corner. The resulting cross caused some consternation within the Costa Rican back-line, but was eventually cleared away.
As with the first bout of Brazilian pressure, Costa Rica immediately sensed a chance to hit their more illustrious opponents on the break. Forward Marcos Urena let fly with a shot forcing Rafael into a sprawling save after a rare foray forward into Brazilian territory, the final meaningful action of a tight first half.
Brazil started the second half with more purpose thanks to a much higher tempo than the languid pace of the first half and Paulo Henrique and Alex Teixeira combined on 49 minutes for the Vasco forward to send a shot towards goal from the inside left channel. Again Alvarado got his positioning perfect and was on hand to claim the effort. The Costa Rican keeper had to be at his best just four minutes later when Guiliano wriggled clear to set up Souza on the penalty spot. However, the Vasco forward again found Alvarado from close range, the Saprissa custodian blocking the volley clear.
Forced to mount an increasing rearguard action, Costa Rica struggled to gain any sort of foothold in the second half, as Brazil created a succession of half-chances and sent deliveries into the box from various angles. Their resistance held out until the 66th minute when the opening goal scorer from the group match between the two sides Alan Kardec was the man to break the stalemate once again. A long ball swung deep into the Costa Rican box from the left flank found the Brazilian forward lurking at the far post to volley the ball in from an improbably tight angle. With Alvarado in such good form it needed to be something special, and it certainly was!
Souza, another of the Vasco contingent, was close to what would certainly have been the deciding second goal when a free-kick from a central position just failed to dip enough on 84 minutes.
With barely five minutes , Costa Rica finally got their attacking game into some sort of shape. A set piece in front of the Brazilian goal seconds later very nearly gave Costa Rica an unlikely equaliser. Midfielder David Guzman hit a shot just a fraction wide of the target sending Rafael scrambling across the goal-line uncertain as to whether it would squeeze in or not. To his, and Brazil’s relief, the shot was not quite well enough aimed.
Los Ticos continued to press forward winning a sequence of corners, which they failed to make the most of. Ultimately the Costa Ricans ran out of time to force a clear cut chance, and Alan Kardec’s goal proved enough for Brazil to squeeze into the final against Ghana. Costa Rica will maybe feel that they could have done more in the closing stages 1-0 down, and whilst the score-line might suggest a relatively close match, in the end Brazil progressed comfortably enough.