Costa Rica 3-0 Northern Ireland: Hosts cruise to World Cup warm-up win
By Charlotte Marsh
Last Updated: 03/06/18 9:00pm
Costa Rica cruised to a 3-0 victory against Northern Ireland on Sunday as they played the first of their World Cup warm-up matches.
The first meeting between the senior men's teams turned out to be a good win for the hosts as they prepare for the tournament in Russia, with Johan Venegas (30) nodding home the opener in the first half.
Arsenal striker Joel Campbell (46) added the second within a minute of the second half kicking off, before Francisco Calvo (66) headed home from Campbell's corner to round off the victory.
Northern Ireland had very few chances to speak of as they concluded their short tour of Central America, with Corry Evans' 70th-minute shot the closest Michael O'Neill's men came to scoring.
In front of their home fans for the last time before the World Cup, it took a while for Costa Rica to get going. Oscar Duarte should have given the hosts the lead in the 18th minute, but he put a header from David Guzman's corner just wide of the post.
Aaron Hughes - Northern Ireland's most capped defender - made his 112th appearance for his country, just seven short of equalling Pat Jennings' overall record.
Six minutes later, and Costa Rica went close again. Cristian Gamboa played a great ball into the box which Daniel Colindres met at the back post with an outstretched foot, but just skewed his effort wide of the upright.
After a two-minute water break, the hosts found the breakthrough in the 30th minute. Campbell's corner was headed down towards the back post by Giancarlo Gonzalez with Venegas heading home.
Venegas could have made it 2-0 not long after as he burst down the field before powering a drive towards goal from 25 yards, but it went straight into the hands of Trevor Carson. Campbell also had a good chance to double the lead in the 44th minute, but his bending shot squeezed past the far post.
But it took Campbell just a minute into the second half to score. Colindres played the ball to Venegas, who then found Campbell to his right, and the Arsenal striker rolled the ball past Carson.
Carson was called into action to deny Campbell again in the 53rd minute as the 25-year-old struck a fierce, curling drive from the top of the area.
But he could do nothing about the third goal 13 minutes later, as Costa Rica scored from another Campbell corner. This time, Calvo got away from his maker to head home from the middle of the area.
Northern Ireland had their only shot of note in the 70th minute as Corry Evans let fly from around 20 yards with a decent strike, but it lifted over the crossbar as substitute goalkeeper Leonel Moreira remained unchallenged.
Costa Rica will face England in their next warm-up game on Thursday at Elland Road before a final friendly against Belgium on Monday 11 June. Northern Ireland have finished their short overseas tour, and will next meet up in September.