Costa Rica endured a second-half red card to their goalkeeper to emerge victorious from Group C in the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup, courtesy of a 1-0 win over Jamaica at Exploria Stadium late Tuesday evening.
Needing only a draw to win the group, Costa Rica left no doubt by taking all three points, as a second-half header from Bryan Ruiz stood as the only goal in the contest. Los Ticos saw out the result despite playing down a man for the final stretch after goalkeeper Leonel Moreira was sent off for a handball outside his penalty box. The match commenced after a lengthy weather delay in Orlando stopped the action four minutes in and lasted over two hours before play resumed.
After a scoreless first half, the Reggae Boyz came just inches from the opener in the 51st minute off a wide-open look from Andre Gray that was set up by a feed from Toronto FC defender Kemar Lawrence. Gray ripped a shot from inside the area that looked bound for the upper corner, but ended up smashing off the post.
Costa Rica then snatched the lead for themselves just two minutes later. Houston Dynamo FC forward Ariel Lassiter played the role of provider, lofting in a perfect cross that Ruiz headed home past Jamaica goalkeeper Dillon Barnes.
Things got interesting in the 72nd minute, as Moreira was issued a straight red card. The Costa Rica backstop charged way out of his box and used his hand to block the ball while Philadelphia Union forward Cory Burke was all alone against him on a breakaway opportunity. Without hesitation, Moreira was sent off by referee Mario Escobar.
That forced Costa Rica to finish the match light, but Los Ticos survived a wave of late pressure and topped Group C.
- 53' – CRC – Bryan Ruiz
- THE BIG PICTURE: Both sides were already through to the knockout phase of the competition, so this was for first-place bragging rights and to decide which opponent they'll meet in the quarterfinals. The match itself really turned in that two-minute span right after the second-half kickoff, when Gray just missed giving the Reggae Boyz the lead and they conceded on the other end. With Costa Rica surviving the red to Moreira, they get a matchup with Canada on Sunday, while Jamaica is now set for a bout on the same day against the US men's national team.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: This header from Ruiz was the decisive tally that delivered Los Ticos the first-place finish.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: We'll give the nod to Costa Rica backup goalkeeper Esteban Alvarado, who was thrust into duty after Moreira was sent off and helped his shorthanded group see out the clean sheet.
- CRC: Sunday, July 25 vs. Canada | 7 pm ET | FS1 | Concacaf Gold Cup Quarterfinals
- JAM: Sunday, July 25 vs. United States | 9:30 pm ET | FS1 | Concacaf Gold Cup Quarterfinals