Costa Rica have revived their hopes of reaching the knockout stages at the FIFA Futsal World Cup with an amazing comeback against Paraguay at Bangkok’s Huamark Stadium. Having been two goals down at half-time, Los Ticos stormed back to win 5-3, with the outstanding Edwin Cubillo creating two and scoring another couple, including an early candidate for goal of the tournament.
The CONCACAF champions could hardly have made a worse start, falling behind in one minute and 41 seconds to the fastest goal of the competition thus far. Rubbing salt in their wounds was the fact that it went down as an own goal, with goalkeeper Jairo Toruna credited with the final touch from a Fabio Alcaraz kick-in. The picture became even gloomier for Costa Rica nine minutes later when Alcaraz doubled Paraguay’s lead, bursting away from Diego Zuniga and lashing a magnificent shot into the roof of net from wide on the right-hand touchline.
He might have been beaten for this goal, but Zuniga was the man to set the comeback in motion two minutes into the second half, prodding home left-footed from close range after latching on to Cubillo’s defence-splitting pass. Within three minutes, Luis Navarette equalised, knocking the ball over the goal-line after Cubillo’s cross had deflected off Paraguay’s Gabriel Ayala and on to the crossbar.
Cubillo then added a goal of his own, blasting into the net off the underside of the bar, before Navarette scored his second - Costa Rica’s fourth within a six-minute period – by sweeping the ball beyond the stunned Carlos Espinola. Forced into drastic measures, Paraguay took a risk in giving Ayala the goalkeeper’s jersey and pushing him forward to join their attack. However, it was a gamble that backfired spectacularly when the defender-turned-keeper’s pass was cut out, with Cubillo somehow finding the unguarded net with a brilliant left-foot shot from almost inside his own penalty box.
And while Walter Villalba claimed a well-worked consolation, there was still time for Cubillo to cap an amazing comeback – and a superb individual showing – with a gorgeous flick from the halfway line after Ayala was again left stranded.
“Costa Rica did not surprise me - what surprised me was our lack of concentration in the second half. We made too many mistake in our passing and dropped too deep in defence," Fernando Leite, Paraguay coach.
“The first half looked like our first match, when we missed many of the chances we were able to create. The key to the second half was keeping a cool head and never releasing the pressure on them. And, of course, scoring the goals! I told my players at half-time, ‘You score first and the rest will follow’. And that is exactly how it happened,” Diego Solís, Costa Rica coach.