Fuller’s late goal lifts Costa Rica over Japan

DOHA, QATAR - NOVEMBER 27: Keysher Fuller of Costa Rica celebrates after scoring their team's first goal during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group E match between Japan and Costa Rica at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium on Nov. 27, 2022 in Doha, Qatar.
DOHA, QATAR – NOV. 27: Keysher Fuller of Costa Rica celebrates after scoring their team’s first goal during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group E match between Japan and Costa Rica at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium on Nov. 27, 2022 in Doha, Qatar.
Photo by Hector Vivas – FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images

Keysher Fuller scored a late second half goal to lift Costa Rica to a 1-0 triumph over Japan in Group E action of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 on Sunday afternoon at the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium in Al Rayyan, Qatar.
CONCACAF said the victory snaps Costa Rica’s seven-match winless skid in the World Cup. and it is also the team’s first win in five all-time meetings with Japan.
Costa Rica also improved its World Cup record against Asian Football Confederation opponents to 2W-0D-0L, according to CONCACAF.
It said some history was also made on Sunday, as GK Keylor Navas and MF Celso Borges became Costa Rica’s all-time appearances leaders in World Cup play with 10.
“It was a patient approach from the two teams in the first half. Costa Rica were content to sit back in defense and look to strike on the counterattack, while Japan maintained the majority of possession,” CONCACAF said.
“It made for a first 45 minutes in which neither side registered a shot on goal, but momentum picked up in the second stanza, beginning with a Japan shot inside the first minute that required Costa Rica GK Keylor Navas to soar to his left to make a save,” it added.
CONCACAF said Japan kept “mounting the pressure in attack, but it also allowed for more forays forward for the Ticos, who were on the hunt for their first goal of the tournament.”
Costa Rica turned to a pair of teenagers midway through the half “in hopes of an attacking spark, with Jewison Bennette and Brandon Aguilera coming on for Gerson Torres and Anthony Contreras, respectively,” CONCACAF said.
It said Costa Rica continued growing into the game, with its efforts paying off “handsomely” in the 81’, when Yeltsin Tejeda fed a pass into Fuller, “whose curling effort tipped off the fingertips of Japan GK Shuichi Gonda and rippled the back of the net for a 1-0 Costa Rica lead.”
CONCACAF said “Japan threw numbers forward in hopes of finding a late equalizer, but Navas and the Costa Rican defense would not yield, including on a mad scramble in the 88’ in which Navas had to make a kick-save.”
In the end, the three points belonged to Costa Rica, who will have its sights set on a Knockout Stage appearance on Thursday against Germany, CONCACAF said.

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