Costa Rica beat New Zealand in playoff to take final spot at 2022 World Cup

Costa Rica beat New Zealand 1-0 in the final intercontinental playoff to complete the 32 finalists who will play in this year’s World Cup finals in Qatar.

In Doha, Los Ticos took an early lead that they kept until the final whistle when Joel Campbell scored after three minutes. The former Arsenal player, now with Monterrey in Mexico, converted a cross after great work from the teenager Jewison Bennette down the left flank.

New Zealand fought back and had much of the pressure in the first half. The Newcastle striker Chris Wood had the ball in the net in the 39th minute, only for VAR to overrule the strike after a foul in the buildup. The check found that Matthew Garbett had fouled Óscar Duarte.

A match that often threatened to boil over saw Luis Fernando Suárez, the Costa Rica coach, make three subs at half-time, including the introduction of the veteran captain, Bryan Ruiz, but New Zealand continued to create many more chances.

“We had a chance to score early on and then we struggled,” said Suárez. “We knew what their assets were. We knew we’d struggle with their aerial balls.

“We had to make a change at half-time to have greater possession and a line of five in defence. That proved key.”

New Zealand’s hopes were seriously damaged when Kosta Barbarouses, the second-half substitute brought on by their manager, Danny Hay, lasted barely eight minutes before being dismissed for a studs-up foul on Francisco Calvo. A VAR check saw his yellow card converted to red. When Barbarouses left, so did the All Whites’ hopes of playing at a third successive World Cup finals.

Quick Guide

Qatar World Cup: the final 32


Group A Qatar, Ecuador, Senegal, Netherlands
Group B England, Iran, USA, Wales
Group C Argentina, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Poland

Group D France, Denmark, Tunisia, Australia
Group E Spain, Germany, Japan, Costa Rica
Group F Belgium, Canada, Morocco, Croatia
Group G Brazil, Serbia, Switzerland, Cameroon
Group H Portugal, Ghana, Uruguay, South Korea

Opening match 21 November Final 18 December

Photograph: Michael Regan/FIFA

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Keylor Navas, the Costa Rican goalkeeper, made a fine save from Clayton Lewis’s long-range effort, and then a low shot from Wood in an increasingly tense last 10 minutes where New Zealand were camped in the opposition half.

Hays said he believed New Zealand played “far better” than their opponents, adding: “One team dominated, there was only one team trying to put together good quality football.”

Costa Rica’s victory means they will take their place in Group E in Qatar, along with Spain, Germany and Japan. It will be their third successive finals after they reached the quarter-finals in 2014 and then went out at the group stage in 2018.