Photo: Costa Rica goalkeeper Keylor Navas saves Theofanis Gekas' penalty in the shout-out to secure a 5-3 for his team. (Getty Images)
Costa Rica goalkeeper Keylor Navas who plies his trade in La Liga with Levante, came up big when it really mattered in their Round of 16 clash against Euro 2004 Champions Greece. The 6ft shot stopper dived to his right to get a strong hand on Theofanis Gekas' penalty in the shout-out to secure a 5-3 "lottery" win for La Sele.
It was a day when history beckoned for Costa Rica and Greece because neither team had ever reached the quarter-final of the World Cup. The game got off to a slow start but La Sele showed great attacking intent early on as right back Cristian Gamboa fired wide from about 25 yards after being set-up by skipper Bryan Ruiz. The Greeks were trying to slow proceedings down as their captain Giorgos Karagounis tried to dictate play but the pace and quickness of Costa Rica was showing.
Greece threatened on 12 minutes but Lazaros Christodoulopoulos shot high and wide of the target. Costa Rica was playing a high line which caught the Greeks offside on many occasions as they dominated proceeding for much of the first half. The Piratikos however carved out a chance when left back Jose Holebas broke down the left but his cross was just out of the reach of Giorgos Samaras in the 29th minute. Holebas created the best chance of the first half when his beautiful cross found Dimitris Salpingidis but Navas denied him from point blank range on 37 minutes. The half ended 0-0 but the Greeks may have felt they should have been ahead.
Ruiz broke the deadlock seven minutes after the restart when he placed his shot from the top of the penalty area into the far corner. He was set-up by Christian Bolanos and his shot left Orestis Karnezis with no chance. He placed it in the corner really well even though his shot didn't have a lot of power behind it. Bolanos was denied two minutes later by Vasilis Torosidis when his shot from just inside the penalty area was blocked.
Costa Rica should have had a penalty when a cross was clearly handled by Torosidis with Bolanos waiting to have a shot on goal on 59 minutes. It could have also seen the Roma right back sent off for denying a goal-scoring opportunity. With about 30 minutes to go Costa Rica were settled in a nice shape and playing on the counter attack but Oscar Duarte saw red in the 67th minute after receiving a second yellow card for a bad foul.
Holebas again was being a threat down the left on 75 minutes but Michael Umana got in the way of his cross with Gekas waiting to pounce. Chistodoulopoulos whipped in a dangerous cross on 88 minutes for Kostas Mitroglou but the substitute headed straight at Navas. Sokratis Papastathopoulos drew level in the 90th minute after Gekas shot was saved by Navas but the Dortmund defender slotted home the rebound. His strike was enough to send the game into extra time.
The 30 minutes flew by with neither team able to conjure up a serious goal threat. Mitroglou got behind the defense to get onto Holebas' cross in the 120th minute but he was denied again by Navas who looked in great form. Extra time ended and penalties would be the decider.
The Costa Ricans held their nerve with Celso Borges, Ruiz, Giancarlo Gonzales, Joel Campbell and Umana converting all five spot kicks. Mitroglou, Christodoulopoulos and Holebas converted for Greece but Navas saved from Gekas to send La Sele into the quarter-finals. Jorge Luis Pinto and his men erupted into wild celebrations and their fans were in ecstasy as they rewrote their World Cup history and prolonged their fairy tale run.