Los Ticos fell, 2-0, to Brazil in their second Group E game on Friday at the Arena St. Petersburg despite weathering a storm of attacks from the South Americans for more than 90 minutes.
Brazil didn’t break the deadlock until the first of the seven minutes of second half stoppage time thanks to Costa Rica’s resistance.
The five-time world champions eventually found their stride as Philippe Coutinho poked home his second goal of the tournament from the center of the box after sneaking in alone off a layoff by Gabriel Jesus.
Six minutes later, the Brazilians secured the victory as Neymar opened his World Cup scoring account by one-timing a feed from Douglas Costa past the outstretched reach of Costa Rican goalkeeper Keylor Navas.
Costa Rica, which was eliminated from the knockout round thanks to Friday’s loss, seemed poised to keep its chances of advancing out of Group E alive thanks in large part to its defending and some technical work in the center of the pitch by Guzman.
Guzman played 83 minutes next to Celso Borges before getting subbed off for Yeltsin Tejada; he led Ticos midfielders in touches (44) and had a stunning pass accuracy of 85 percent, which was tied for the highest on his side.
Brazil out-shot Costa Rica 22 to three, with none of Los Ticos’ shots finding their way to the target.
But the Brazilians, who settled for a 1-1 tie with Switzerland in their Group E opener, were nevertheless frustrated by the Costa Ricans’ tenacious play in their own end of the field.
Coutinho and Neymar’s goals brought relief to a Brazil team that looked set to go winless in its first two World Cup group games for the first time since 1978.
In fact, the game was nearly defined by match referee Bjorn Kuipers’ decision to reverse his 88thminute penalty call after VAR showed Neymar diving in the penalty area.
Neymar flipped the script by putting the result beyond all doubt as time ran out on Costa Rica’s knockout round hopes.
Meanwhile, Costa Rica may be eliminated from advancing past the group stage, but it can still play spoiler to Switzerland, Brazil and Serbia, pending other results.
Los Ticos close out their slate of games in Russia by taking on the Swiss on Wednesday at Nizhny Novgorod Stadium.