For both Belgium and Costa Rica, this was one last tune up before the Group Stages of the World Cup get underway this weekend. Both teams coming into the match were looking to stay fresh and not get hurt, so it was a pretty clean game — only one yellow in the entire match which came in the 44th minute to Giancarlo Gonzalez of Costa Rica.
It would look good for the Tico’s early on, with them getting the first shot off on goal — the shot was saved by former Atletico Madrid and current Chelsea keeper Thibaut Courtois.
Keylor Navas would be called into action in the fourth minute, just seconds after Costa Rica had just taken a shot of their own. The Belgian captain, Eden Hazard, would bear-down on Navas who would go to ground with the use of a leg to save a near post shot. The Red Devils out-possessed Costa Rica 69% to 31%, though at times it seemed like it was much more that that. Belgium just grind you down with their possession. Costa Rica would go without the ball for minutes at a time.
Things started to heat up around the 15th minute with a stellar save from King Keylor on a close-range shot from Romelu Lukaku. Six minutes later he would get caught off his line, but still able to adjust and make a save on former Atletico Madrid midfielder Yannick Carrasco.
The Tico’s got on the board first in the 24th minute, surprising the Belgians and everyone in the stadium. It was a nice chip over the top of the defenders, where Bryan Ruiz would strike it on the volley, rocketing it past a stunned Courtois. It would only take the Red Devils seven minutes to level the score. A sublime curling pass would find its way to the far post, where Dries Mertens was unmarked by stepping into space just in front of Keylor Navas, who had no chance at the save.
The Red Devils would score again near the half on a goal, point blank from Lukaku - who sent the ball up and over Navas who had gone to ground. This would put the Belgians up by one with the score 2-1, and that’s how we’d reach half time.
Costa Rica looked good coming out in the second half. They put pressure on Belgium so much so, that for the first few minutes the Red Devils had to try and get out of their own end. In the 50th minute, they started dominate possession. A cross into the box, right on the head of Lukaku, gave Navas no chance.
The scoring for either side would be over in the 64th minute as Romelu Lukaku drove into the box looking for his hat trick, but instead he squared it to a waiting Michy Batshuayi who scored into an open net.
That would make it 4-1 and put a cap on the night.
I’m not sure this is how Navas envisioned going into the World Cup, getting smoked for four goals in the last game before the big dance. Keylor did Keylor things, and when I say that, I mean it was good and bad for Keylor. The score could have been a lot more than just four if it hadn’t been for his point-blank saves on guys like Lukaku and Hazard.
While he does deserve some stick for the poor performance, the defense in front of him has to shoulder a good part of the blame. They left him out to dry more than once. That Mertens goal was a prime example.
There were a couple times that Navas was almost caught off his line. Other than the four goals, he looked pretty good on the night. Like I said, it could have been much worse if it hadn’t been for Navas making some really good saves against Belgium.
On a brighter note, I was surprised and happy to see that Keylor is the Captain of the Costa Rican national team.
Player Rating: 5.5/10
Four goals allowed didn’t help.