The first action in Group A of the FIFA U-17 World Championship Peru 2005 saw China and Costa Rica take a share of the spoils in Trujillo 1:1. An entertaining first half brought numerous chances for both teams, only for the momentum to subside somewhat in the second 45 minutes. The red card for China's Gu Cao ten minutes from time was one of few talking points.
China began the match with intent, penning the visibly surprised Costa Ricans in their own half in the early stages but without taking any advantage.
"I think we had the better chances to win the game in the first half, but I think that was an acceptable start to the tournament," China coach Zhang Ning told FIFA.com.
The Central Americans took a few minutes to create their own first opening, Leslie Ramos heading wide after a cross from Celso Borges (9'). However, it was not long before coach Geovanny Alfaro's charges broke the deadlock. The tireless Luis Cordero fed Roberto Carrillo whose powerful left-footed drive from the edge of the penalty area left Chinese goalkeeper Wang Dalei helpless (1:0; 10').
To the Chinese team's credit, they refused to wilt under the pressure and it was not long before Tang Naixin seized upon a Costa Rican error in midfield and surged into the penalty area before unleashing an unstoppable, pinpoint shot from 14 yards out on the right to deservedly restore parity (1-1; 17').
China regained the ascendancy with an opportunity through Deng Zhuoxiang whose 12-yard effort was comfortably gathered by Costa Rican keeper Alfonso Quesada (21'). Costa Rica enjoyed more possession but were unable to create any clear chances in a match struggling to live up to its early promise.
Wang denies Costa Rica
The Central Americans did carve out another opportunity shortly before the interval. Celso Borges played a precision pass into the path of striker Jean Solorzano, only for Wang to rush out from his goal and smother (42') before Gu Jinjin spurned another Chinese opportunity to close an entertaining first half (45').
Both teams resumed hesitantly after the break, reluctant to engage their opponents. It was Costa Rica, all of whom wore gloves to combat the cool evening air in Trujillo, who provided the first action of note 14 minutes after the re-start, a Borges free-kick from the right-hand side of the penalty area going just wide (59').
Subsequent highlights were few and far between, causing the spectators in the stands to launch a Mexican wave in anticipation of seeing the host nation in action. Costa Rica coach Geovanny Alfaro threw Alvaro César Elizondo into the fray on the 70-minute mark in a bid to inject more urgency into his team's offensive play.
Just minutes later, defender Gu Cao was shown the red card to leave the Chinese with a numerical disadvantage for the remaining ten minutes. However, Costa Rica were unable to capitalise, the best chances falling to Carrillo, whose shot was pushed away by Wang for a corner (86'), and Elizondo whose effort on the turn fell short (90').
Costa Rica coach Geovanny Alfaro was disappointed with the outcome: "I am not happy with the result. We could have won the game. We had a number of chances but 1:1 is an acceptable result for us. China had the better chances in the first half, but we should have won the game."