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Costa Rica agonisingly missed out on automatic qualification for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, despite defeating the United States 2-0, as a consequence of Mexico’s victory over El Salvador. In spite of extending their unbeaten record across 2022 CONCACAF World Cup Qualification (WCQ) matches to seven matches, Costa Rica will now face New Zealand in the intercontinental play-offs in June.

In need of only a point to qualify for their tenth World Cup Finals, the visitors demonstrated an unparalleled level of attacking dominance in the opening quarter-hour to the backdrop of exasperated emotion from the home supporters. Showcasing their youngest-ever starting line-up across their WCQ campaign, the visitors’ abundance of upcoming talent demanded the very best out of Keylor Navas, as the veteran goalkeeper was forced to produce a number of sublime saves to keep the scores level.

Knowing only a victory would be enough to secure automatic passage to Qatar, the hosts struggled to gain a superior presence in the Costa Rican capital, as the ‘USMNT’ continued to pile on the pressure in pursuit of the opening goal, but ultimately were left frustrated as their determined endeavours came to no-avail heading into HT.

The hosts were further indebted to the Paris Saint-Germain goalkeeper when he somehow produced a double-save to deny Miles Robinson and then Timothy Weah. However, moments later against the run of play, the roof was raised off the stadium in the 51st minute, when Juan Pablo Vargas majestically rose over the ‘USMNT’ defence‘ to direct a towering header past the outstretched dive of Zack Steffen.

The visitors were left in a state of shock nine minutes later, when Anthony Contreras made the most of pandemonium within the visitors’ penalty area, instinctively slotting Jewison Bennette’s enticing ball back across goal into the back of the net. The hosts were dealt a blow ahead of their intercontinental play-off, when Navas had to be withdrawn due to injury in the 79th minute.

Despite failing in their endeavours to secure automatic qualification to Qatar, the victory maintained Costa Rica’s accolade of never being beaten by the United States in a WCQ match on home soil. Meanwhile, ‘USMNT’ will find out who they will face in the group stages in Qatar when the draw is made on the 1st April.

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