When Costa Rica lowered the colours of Brazil and then some
Costa Rica When Costa Rica lowered the colours of Brazil and then some
Just over 58 years ago in San JosÃ© the home side got the better of the World Cup holders, still the only time they have avoided defeat in 10 meetings
The Panamerican Championship is one of those international tournaments that time forgot. It ran every four years from 1952-60, with emerging teams from North America joining the big hitters from the South. And though the competition is unlikely to be a Mastermind specialist subject any time soon, it had its moments. In 1952 Uruguay and Brazil met for the first time since the immortal Maracanazo of 1950, when Alcides Ghiggiaâs late goal stole the World Cup from the host, Brazil. A virile rematch ended 4-2 to Brazil in goals and 1-1 on sendings off.
Eight years later Brazil were the subject of one of international footballâs more incongruous scorelines when they lost 3-0 to the host, Costa Rica. The result stood out then; it stands out even more now. Costa Ricaâs record against Brazil going into Fridayâs match in St Petersburg is dismal: P10 W1 L9. Th at includes two World Cup defeats, 1-0 in a low-key game at Italia 90 and 5-2 in a wildly open match 12 years later, and assorted pastings elsewhere.
Brazil were the world champions when they lost to Costa Rica â" they won the tournament for the first time in 1958 and would retain it in 1962. But it was not David v Goliath so much as David v Goliathâs clumsier younger sibling.Costa Rica wonder how to top a World Cup underdog fairytale Read more
The Brazil team were unrecognisable from the one that won those World Cups. The Panamerican Championship was scheduled at the same time as the prestigious Rio-SÃ£o Paulo Tournament, which back then was the closest Brazil had to a national championship, so PelÃ©, Garrincha and the rest took part in that instead.
Brazil picked a team entirely of GaÃºchos â" the name given to those who played in Rio Grande do Sul, the southern state known for its cowboys. Brazilâs captain, Ãnio Rodrigues, had five caps going into the Costa Rica match, their second of the tournament. The rest of the team had eight between them.
Itâs a truism that there is no such thing as a bad Brazil team, and the squad for the competition was still full of fine players. Most of them came from GrÃªmio, who were in the middle of a run of 12 state championships in 13 years; the rest were from Internacional, Cruzeiro and AimorÃ©.
When they played Costa Rica in San JosÃ©, they were caught cold by early goals from Guillermo âMemoâ Valenciano and Ãdgar Quesada. An affronted Brazil bombarded the Costa Rica goal thereafter but the goalkeeper HernÃ¡n Alvarado produced the kind of performance that is still being talked about in a foreign newspaper 58 years later. Rigoberto Rojasâs late goal added an extra sheen of disbelief but a crowd of 25,000 happily gawped at the evidence on the primitive electronic scoreboard, sitting right below a huge Esso slogan: Costa Rica 3-0 Brasil.
After the match there was giddy talk that Costa Rica might win the tournament. With all four teams â" Argentina and Mexico were the others â" playing each other twice, Brazil had the chance for revenge a week later. The element of surprise, and perhaps complacency, was gone. Costa Rica lost 4-0.
The Brazil game was Costa Ricaâs only win out of six in the tournament. It was the biggest result in their history until 1990, when they beat Scotland in their first ever World Cup match.
As with Englandâs famous win at the MaracanÃ£ in 1984, few Costa Ricans felt the need to kill their own joy by highlighting the fact that most of Brazilâs best players were missing. A win over Brazil is a win over Brazil is a win over Brazil.
Besides, Costa Rica had more than enough reason to think they could hold their own in more elite company. A couple of months before that match, they drew 2-2 with a full-strength Botafogo â" the same âEsquadrÃ£o Imortalâ who are indelibly associated with Brazilâs first two World Cup wins. The team included Garrincha, the greatest winger of all time; NÃlton Santos, Brazilâs best ever left-back; the futuristic left-winger MÃ¡rio Zagallo; and the goal machine Quarentinha.
Costa Ricaâs draw was arguably a worthier result, though it is not the one people remember. You never forget the first time you beat Brazil â" especially when itâs the only time.Topics
- Costa Rica
- World Cup 2018
- World Cup
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