A Joel Campbell brace inspired Costa Rica to a 3-2 victory over the Young Socceroos despite the bulk of possession being held by the Australians. Campbell's pure class was on display for all during the match as the Arsenal and Manchester United target tormented Australia's lacklustre back four all night. Tommy Oar once again scored for Australia with a neat flick over the 'keeper, while the Australian's second goal was an own goal. Here are the highlights:
The first opportunity of the match once again fell to winger Kofi Danning, who blasted a shot marginally over the cross bar from distance. In the 11th minute midfielder Dimitri Petratos released striker Kerem Bulut with a delightful defence splitting pass. Bulut was one-on-one with the Costa Rican 'keeper and tried to curl it round him, but the 'keeper stuck out his leg and made a vital save. Only seconds after Costa Rica had their first chance of the match as Ruiz was played through, only to hit the ball over the cross bar after Australian 'keeper Birighitti came rushing off his line. Bulut was then at it again minutes later as he knocked the ball round one defender and then cut inside to shoot just over the goal once again. Costa Rica then took the lead from a fortuitous piece of play, as Terry Antonis was de-possessed well inside his own half and the ball was played to Joel Campbell who ran at the defenders. He shifted the ball to his right foot momentarily losing his balance, but not his composure as he cooly switched it back to his preferred left foot and slotted the ball home making it 1 nil. This was the catalyst for an explosive 5 minutes of play, as Australia equalised just 4 minutes later. Rhyan Grant provided a long looping throw in from the right flank of the pitch which was neatly flicked on by Kerem Bulut. Tommy Oar's brilliant run saw him beat his marker and neatly flick the ball over the 'keeper to make it 1 all. Just after this from the kick off, Costa Rica made it 2-1. Jordan Smith once again beat Marc Warren for pace and whipped in a superb cross, where that man Campbell was waiting to finish with a world class side foot volley. Australia had a golden opportunity to once again level the scores as Tommy Oar was free down the left flank and had Kerem Bulut screaming up the middle of the pitch for the ball. However Oar selfishly took a shot at goal which blazed over the top yet again. Bulut was clearly unhappy with Oar's decision as he remonstrated towards him.
The second half saw changes afoot as Australia chased the match. On the hour mark Australia made an influential double change as Bernie Ibini-Isei replaced Kofi Danning and Mustafa Amini came on for Dimitri Petratos. Ibini was an instant success on the pitch as he had pace to burn and looked like a genuine threat. In the 64th minute Jan Versleijen's (Australian manager) decision payed off as Warren played the ball inside to Ibini who in turn played the ball into the centre looking for Bulut. The ball found Fransisco Calvo, who unfortunately turned the ball into the net, levelling the scores at 2 all. Australia then had the confidence and the weight of possession to potentially win the match. This changed in the 71st minute as Campbell had a half shot, half cross cleared away by Birighitti, only for it to find Ruiz who shot at goal. It was denied by some last ditch defending by Melbourne Heart player Brendan Hamill who got his body in the way. The resulting corner however was the winner for Costa Rica, as Campbell found the unmarked Ruiz at the near post for him to head home. It was poor defence from the Australian's at a set piece and was punished by the Costa Rican's. There were a handful of chances for both sides in the last minutes of the match, a lot of Australia's chances coming from Ibini who showed some brilliant skills to release himself or team mates. Bulut however had the final chance of the match as he received the ball just outside the penalty area, he turned inside onto his right foot and shot high and wide.
This was a game the Australian's would feel they should have won, however costly mistakes in defence have once again cost them. Versleijen should be credited for his changes to the team from the first game, as he brought Hamill into defence and Antonis into midfield. Hamill looked a lot more comfortable playing out from the back and was much more confident at defending than Dylan McGowan in the previous fixture. Antonis was the hub of the midfield in this match, despite being to blame for Costa Rica's first goal. He not only pulled the strings in midfield but also provided some great tackles. Versleijen's best call was when he introduced Amini and Ibini in the second half. Both players looked very dangerous against tiring opponents. One disappointment is the fact the only Australian player that presses in the opposition's half is Kerem Bulut. There is no point in him being the only one to press as he then leaves massive amounts of space for the opposition to use. The team should be pressing as a unit or not at all, because they have the capability to do so.
Australia face the uphill task of taking on Spain in the final group match on Sunday morning (Australian time). The Spanish squad contains Sergio Canales from Real Madrid, Daniel Pacheco of Liverpool, Oriol Romeu of Barcelona, Isco of Valencia and Koke from Atletico Madrid. All of these youngsters are potential stars and major threats to the Australians. However both teams will be without one of their most influential midfielders as they face a one match suspension due to picking up two yellow cards in their first two matches. Australia will be without captain Ben Kantarovski, while Spain will be without Barcelona player Oriol Romeu. This could have some bearing on the match. It is a must win match for Australia, whilst for Spain they have the luxury of knowing they will be top of the group no matter what the results are. The Australian's will no doubt have a tough task, but in football anything can happen as long as you believe.