Costa Rica 1-1 Honduras
Costa Rica came into this match as the leaders of the Northern, Central American, and Caribbean group. It was also a special match between two fierce rivals, known as El Clásico centroamericano.
This game had all the usual ingredients of a hot-headed South/Central American game. Referee with no authority whatsoever, but he still wants to be the hero of the match? Checked. Wild tackles from both sides? Checked. Theatrics in the box? Checked. Amazing crowd? Checked. Questionable calls? Checked. Etc.
The start to this game was fast and sloppy. Players were nervous and they made a lot of simple mistakes that you wouldn't expect to make. Both teams had decent chances, but their finishing was subpar.
In the 34th minute, Costa Rican defenders were caught sleeping. Honduras played a simple ball over the defence and Keylor did his best to stop the first shot, but he couldn't get the rebound.
Right before half-time, the referee thought that it was his time to shine. He didn't let Costa Rica take the free kick. Instead, he took the ball from the players and called half-time and then went straight to the locker room. Let's just say that the Costa Rican players weren't happy with him.
More drama in Honduras! Ref picked up ball half way through a Costa Rica free kick & called HT. Costa Rica going mental Keylor Navas furious pic.twitter.com/Mn30DCendo— Eli (@ElMengem) March 28, 2017
Emotions were really high.
In the second half, Costa Rica managed to equalize from a corner with a nice bullet header into the top-right corner. And then Costa Rica survived some very dangerous Honduras' chances, mainly thanks to Keylor. In the end they managed to keep the score level and Costa Rica secured a valuable point from the game.
Keylor had quite a busy night. Because Costa Rica's defence was far from impregnable, he was forced into a couple of crucial one-on-one saves that kept his side in the game. He was good in the air and dealt with crosses with ease. He might've done a bit better on the goal, but it was a close range effort and I wouldn't blame it on him.
Overall, Keylor had a solid night and I think he needed that. This important point and his good saves could boost his morale, which would be great news for Real Madrid. We need him at his best.
Ecuador 0 – 2 Colombia
Coming into the night, Colombia sat in 4th place in the CONMEBOL WQC Standings and were looking to move up the table against Ecuador. Los Cafeteros came out in a 4-2-3-1, with James in the CAM role sitting right behind striker Miguel Borja. However, Borja would drift wide right for most of the night, meaning that James had to occupy the behind. This mean that James stayed more central tonight than he did against Bolivia, where he was everywhere on the pitch.
Colombia would start by attacking down the right-wing in the early going, clearly seeing a mismatch between the right back and Borja. Though after 18 minutes they weren’t looking all that threatening as James wasn’t getting many touches. They also had a tough time dealing with pressure from Los Amarillos early on. Anytime a Colombian touched the ball there were at least two players closing him down.
Colombia would open the scoring in the 20th minute as Miguel Boja would find a sliding James in the box, who backed into the ball deflecting it past the keeper and into the back of the net.
Then he danced like no one was watching.
It would only take 14 more minutes for Colombia to strike a second time. Again, James would be involved in the play as he squared a lifted pass from Edwin Cardona to Juan Cuardrado, who deftly put it on the back of the net.
Colombia threatened again in the 39th minute but Los Amarillos quickly snuffed out the attack.
Thus, it was 2-0 Colombia at the half.
Things would go wrong for Ecuador in the 60th minute as an already carded Luis Caideo launched himself into a horror tackle, meaning Ecuador were forced to face Colombia down a man. Instead of piling on the pressure, Los Cafeteros were more than willing to take their time and absorb some pressure. Try as they might, anytime Ecuador looked to be threatening, the Colombia defense would shut the door.
The match ended with Los Amarillos losing 0–2 against Los Cafeteros.
Much more restraint from James tonight, as he stayed central most of the game, allowing the striker Borja to drift out wide. This worked perfectly, as James was the architect of Colombia’s attack all night (even though he didn’t see a lot of the ball in the early going).
James’ goal was his 19th of his international career, putting him just one behind Faustino Asprilla. He looked good both on and off the ball, with his runs creating space for the Colombian attack.
He picked up Man Of The Match honors and why shouldn’t he? He had a goal, an assist, 2 key passes, and completed 79% of his passes on the night. He did look pretty gassed as the game entered the latter stages, as he’s not one to go 90 normally with the Royal Whites.
Player Rating: 8/10