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Costa Rica World Cup
Tuesday's intercontinental playoff match saw Costa Rica defeat New Zealand 1-0 to complete the 32-nation World Cup roster.
Joel Campbell scored in the third minute, but Costa Rica held on thanks to saves from goalie and captain Keylor Navas and a strong senior base.
Even after falling down early and playing with 10 men for the last quarter of the game, New Zealand recovered to control possession and generate more and better scoring opportunities.
The 2014 quarterfinalist Costa Rica advanced to its third consecutive World Cup, while New Zealand failed the final qualifying test for the third time in a row. The most recent Kiwis defeat in the intercontinental playoffs came after defeats to Mexico in the 2014 tournament and Peru in the playoffs four years later.
Chris Wood may have scored an equalizer in the 39th minute, but two crucial decisions following video review went against New Zealand, resulting in a red card for Kosta Barbarouses in the 69th for a foul. Just nine minutes were spent on the pitch by the midfielder as a replacement.
Navas saved his finest play for the frantic finish, leaping to block Wood's low drive and getting down to save Clayton Lewis' looping left-foot attempt.
Luis Fernando Suárez, the coach of Costa Rica, completed his own World Cup hat trick. In 2006, he represented Ecuador, and in 2014, he represented Honduras.
Suárez and his side have a challenging World Cup task ahead of them because Group E has two of the last three champions. On November 23, Spain will face off against the team before Japan and Germany.
When Campbell, a former Arsenal forward, slid between two defenders near the penalty spot to receive a low cross from youngster Jewison Bennette, Costa Rica scored on its opening effort. Campbell sent a left-footed shot low and wide of the goal.