The Costa Rica vs Panama World Cup qualifying match held at the Estadio Nacional in Costa Rica ended in a 2-0 victory for the home team. This win puts Costa Rica in second place with 11 points, 5 points ahead of 5th place Panama (just 4 Hexagonal matches remaining). A tough first half was opened up by two early second half goals from the Ticos.
The first half of the Costa Rica vs Panama match was dominated by physical play with few scoring opportunities. The Panamanians went into the game looking for a draw, knowing that a loss would leave them near the bottom of the standings in a dangerous spot. However, 2 magnificent long range shots would turn the tide in favor of the Ticos.
Brian Ruiz scored a 47th minute goal off a free kick from the left side of the box. While the Panamanian goalkeeper and the entire defense expected a high, curving shot, Ruiz sent a thunderous, close-to-the-ground shot that pierced the net.
Celso Borges followed up with an amazing long range shot of his own just 4 minutes later. Given plenty of space outside the box, Borges took a powerful strike about 25 yards out, and placed the ball on the top right corner of the net. The 2-0 early second half lead would prove to be decisive, as the Panamanians never recovered (eerily similar to the US vs Panama match last week).
Costa Rica moves up to second place with 11 points, three ahead of Mexico (3rd) and five ahead of fifth placed Panama. 5 points out of the last 4 matches should prove to be enough to guarantee Costa Rica a spot in the Brazil World Cup, that is why the Costa Rica vs Panama match was crucial for the Ticos.
Panama remain in fifth place with just 6 points, 1 point behind Honduras (4th place). Panama must defeat Jamaica when they host them next September, and get at least a draw in Honduras in what will be the decisive match for these two teams. Negative results in either of the upcoming September matches would see Panama out of the World Cup.