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Costa Rica defeats Korea Republic 3:1; reach first Gold Cup final

30.01.02 - A magnificent second-half double from Paulo Cesar Wanchope put Costa Rica into the final of the FC Gold Cup for the first time, with a 3:1 defeat of Korea Republic on Wednesday at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.

Wanchope scored a pair of well-taken goals five minutes apart – sandwiched around a Korea goal from Choi Jin-Cheul – as Costa Rica weathered a second-half storm after taking the lead just before the halftime interval.

The contest matched a pair of sides who will play in this summer’s FIFA World Cup finals, and the game was much as advertised, a high-speed contest with real ebb and flow.

Korea held most of the possession in the second half, but as has been their failing throughout the Gold Cup, they couldn’t take advantage of their opportunities.

Wanchope then made them pay inside the final quarter-hour with Costa Rica clinging to a tenuous one-goal lead after a perfectly-weighted cross from Mauricio Solis on the left flank sailed over a defender. Wanchope ran onto and hit a first-time shot which goalkeeper Kim Byung-Ji failed to control, watching the ball roll off of his body into the goal.

Choi pulled a goal for Korea when a corner was poorly cleared, coming to Choi who was lying on his back at the back post. He hooked the ball home as goalkeeper Erick Lonnis was unable to keep the roller out.

But right off the kickoff, a long ball was played over the top of the Korea defense as Wanchope took off. He collected the ball just outside the area and ripped a drive past Kim to restore the two-goal lead and send the ticos to the final.

After some early first-half sparring Costa Rica began to take control of the match. Walter Centeno continued his quality promptings from midfield, creating good opportunities for Ronald Gomez and Wanchope with no success.

But in the 37th minute, Costa Rica saw the first big chance fall their way. Wanchope, after fighting off a challenge from defender Choi Sung-Yong on the left flank, got the byeline and drove in a cross. As Choi tried to block it the ball was knocked down with his arm, referee Rodolfo Sibrian making no hesitation in pointing to the spot.

Hernan Medford stepped up to take the penalty, but put his effort well over the bar with no threat at all to Kim in the Korean goal.

Yet just six minutes later, Costa Rica went ahead. Harold Wallace played a ball to Medford on the right, who flicked a lovely ball into the area. Gomez got a step inside his defender and perfectly timed his first-time shot, Kim helpless to keep it out of the goal.

“We are very happy because we wanted to have a game of this quality today to prove what we talked about when the tournament started, that after a few games this teams is returning to its style and intensity in its play,” said Costa Rica technical director Alexandre Guimaraes.

“I think that we were in the position that we wanted to be in when we gave this tournament so much importance bringing the entire starting Costa Rican team and therefore we are very happy where we are as we go for something that Costa Rica has been looking for a long time.”

“At the end, it doesn’t bring you a lot to have possession of the ball, when you dominate the game and you don’t finalize, you don’t win it,” said Korea coach Guus Hiddink. “When you don’t finalize, you don’t take advantage of the few opportunities that you got, then you will be punished like we were punished by Costa Rica and by our own defensive errors."

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