Switzerland secured their passage to the second round of the World Cup but life wasn’t made easy for them by a plucky Costa Rica side who plundered their first goal and point at Russia 2018.
Costa Rica had the Swiss sweating early, striking the woodwork twice in the early stages of the game but it would be Switzerland who had the scoreboard ticking over first when Blerim Dzemaili powered home from close range after good work from Embolo.
The strike from the Swiss midfielder came against the run of play, with Joel Campbell and Bryan Ruiz proving to be a thorn in Swiss sides and it was clear that this Costa Rican side were determined to end their World Cup on a high note.
They would get the goal that their endeavor deserved on 56 minutes, when 6 ft 5 in defender Kendall Watson sent a glancing header past Yann Sommer from a Joel Campbell corner. The Swiss complained that Watson was perhaps a little vigorous with one of their defenders as they tangled for the ball, but the goal was given and Costa Rica had their first strike of Russia 2018.
The Swiss didn’t panic, knowing that as things stood elsewhere in the group a draw would be sufficient to secure qualification but they appeared to have made sure of things when Drmic deftly placed a first-time shot into Keylor Navas’ left-hand corner from a superb Zakaria cross.
But this game wasn’t over, not by a long shot. Even though their own qualification chances were nil, Costa Rica looked to have salvaged a point when the referee pointed to the penalty spot after former Fulham man Ruiz was bundled over in the box. Costa Rican smiles soon turned upside down though, as VAR officials in Moscow saw fault with the referee’s call and the decision was overturned.
Costa Rica were soon awarded a do-over. Just moments later the referee adjudged Campbell to have been fouled as he drove into the box but if anything, the replays seemed to show the Costa Rican fouling Swiss defender Zakaria. Nonetheless, the penalty passed all quality control checks and was dispatched in bizarre fashion, with Ruiz striking the crossbar and ricocheting into the goal off Sommer’s back for an own-goal. The 2-2 draw sends Switzerland into the next round, with Brazil topping the group but at the very least, Costa Rica’s fans will go home happy having secured a precious World Cup point.