Campbell sends Costa Rica to Qatar 2022

Joel Campbell’s early goal proved enough for Costa Rica to see off a spirited New Zealand and become the 32nd and final nation to qualify for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™. Los Ticos will play Spain, Germany and Japan in Group E.

If yesterday’s intercontinental play-off began at crawl, today’s exploded into life. In the third minute, Jewison Bennette burst down the left and fired a low cross into the centre. Joel Campbell somehow muscled in between two opponents to bundle the ball into the bottom corner.

The All Whites then laid siege to Los Ticos’ goal. Matt Garbett shot narrowly wide, Alexander Greive did the same after fine work by Chris Wood, and then the latter’s shot was half-saved by Keylor Navas, before the Costa Rica defence hooked it clear with the hulking striker ready to pounce.

Wood then had an appeal for a penalty turned down. Anthony Contreras misjudged a long ball aimed at the New Zealand No9, who masterfully took it on his chest and went down under the Costa Rican's challenge, but the referee waved play on. There was more misfortune for Wood moments later. The Newcastle United man fired home a deflected Garbett cross, only for the goal to be ruled out for a foul earlier in the move. Costa Rica defended far more resolutely after the break, and their hopes were heighted midway through the half when Kosta Barbarouses, not long after coming on, was sent off for a wild lunge. New Zealand didn’t give up, with Chris Wood attempting an acrobatic strike and Niko Kirwan’s curler from distance forcing Navas to tip the ball around his post, but Costa Rica held on to reach a third successive World Cup.

“It was a very quick play,” said Campbell of his goal. “When I saw that Jewison had the chance to cross, I tried to accelerate and get to the penalty spot to be able to score “We qualified because we are a great team with great players and a great coaching staff. Because we are a family. Because we are a very united group. Because we deserve it. We are very happy to have made it to Qatar.” Bryan Ruiz added: “The early goal meant qualification. It was a group effort more than an individual one, as it was in the last games. We know that certain things need to be changed, but the important thing was to qualify and now it's time to celebrate. “I urge the people to enjoy it, to celebrate. It was a lot of hard work over many months. We all suffered a lot. It was difficult. But we are in a third consecutive FIFA World Cup for the first time in Costa Rica's history, and we will go and do our best at Qatar 2022.”