Gold Cup: Own goal dooms Belize against Costa Rica
Sandy • The crowd wasn't what Alvaro Saborio is used to, but the outcome had to feel familiar.
Real Salt Lake's all-time leading scorer captained his Costa Rican national team to a 1-0 win over Belize in front of an ever-dwindling crowd at Rio Tinto Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
"It was not an easy game for us," said Costa Rica coach Jorge Luis Pinto. "It's not like people were saying that Belize doesn't know how to play. They're a very good team. They gave us a lot of hard time."
Costa Rica struggled to break down a Belize side that gave up six goals to the United States last week. Instead, it was Belize that inflicted the most damage on itself.
In the 50th minute, defender Dalton Eiley attempted to clear a cross headed for Saborio in front of the goal. Instead, Eiley directed the ball past goalkeeper Woodrow West before falling to the ground in disbelief.
Saborio nearly helped double his team's lead in the 88th minute, when he headed a ball across the face of the goal to a teammate, but the point-blank shot smashed into West's gut and was saved.
Costa Rican defender Junior Enrique Diaz provided some late-game heroics for his team. When goalkeeper Patrick Pemberton came out of the 6-yard box to punch away a ball, a Belize header seemed destined for the back of the empty net. Instead, Diaz fell to his back while making a game-saving clearance.
With the win, Costa Rica secures a berth in the Gold Cup's knockout stage.
Costa Rica next plays the United States as group play continues Tuesday.
Storylines Costa Rica 1, Belize 0
O Belize defender Dalton Eiley tries to clear a cross but accidentally knocks the ball past goalkeeper Woodrow West for the only goal of the game.