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Pierre's World Cup Diary

GAME 18, GROUP A, JUNE 15, 2006 --HAMBURG
ECUADOR 3, COSTA RICA 0
FINAL

The way this works is siple:a victory guarantees Ecuador's move to the second round, ad Poland executio. A tie merely guarantees Polad's execution but leaves the door open to a Costa Rica race ...

4... The pace of the game is not yet spectacular. Interesting camera angle at the start of the game, straight on the Hamburg sky: it's gray all right.

7... Ecuador doesn't seem yto have the "communication" problem the US keeps moaning about and...

GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAL!

10, BEAUTIFULLY, BEAUTIFULLY DONE: Brisk, short passes on the way to goal, bemusing the defenders, a pass down the far wing, a cross into the box, where Ecuador's Tenorio was onrushing and diving upward to receive the ball, and he heads it in from the six-yard line for his second goal of the tournament... 1-0 Ecuador... and a free kick just now saved by the Costa Rican keeper.

13... All Ecuador.. a short corner kick, but nothing doing. Goal kick, breather for Costa.

Every Ecuadorean goal is a big nail in Poland's coffin.

It's attack after attack for Ecuador: Mendez, Delgado, Castillo, shot, shot, shot, they're spreading it around, badgering the Costa Ricans, and giving us a show.

19... Costa Rica just attempted its first shot, a high-sailing prayer over the line, and ruled off-side on top of it. It isn;t turning out to be Costa Rica's day.

22... Mendez backheels his way to an Ecuador corner, but Reasco hits it about seventeen stories above goal.

26... Costa Rica have settled down, they're pressing, they're building, they're managing to test the defense and the keeper. 12 fouls so far.

30... Except for some good passing streaks for the Costa Ricans in the Ecuador half, the last few minutes have been grayish and dull.

35... The game has evened out but at the cost of its early frenetic pace; that's good for Costa Rica if it can capitalize.

38... Funny little bit of a stare-down between Ecuador's Valencia and his Costa opponent before the ball was lost again. If you can't generate exciting football, might as well generate a little bit of theatrics.

40... The thing is that a win for Ecuador might be good for Ecuador, but it would put this group to sleep for the rest of the first round. That means the Ecuador-Poland and the Germany-Costa Rica games will be utterly pointless except as exhibitions. So for drama's sake, Costa Rica should save the day and pull off a win or a draw.

41 Great save by the Costa Rican keeper on a straight shot from the far wing, goal-post shot too. Costa Rica replies with a well-constructed play and cross into the box, a header sails short of a wide open goal.

45... Oh! The whole stadium was taking a snooze, Ecuador launched a lateral attack, three men onrushing goal, a cross, and a miss:a game of inches.

Injury time, and Costa Rica can't make do with a mild rumble in the Ecuadorian half. Half over.

HALF-TIME... Not the most fabulous 45 minutes of football, unless of course you're an Ecuadorean.

Second half... This is what I don't quite get about football copaching. The goal-scorer for Ecuador is out. Substituted.

Ivan Kaviedes is in for Carlos Tenorio, if that means anything to you. Wanchope has finally taken a shot for Costa Rica, a long-ranger from the edge of the box, just wide of the far side post. We might see more of those and here come Costa Rica again: Los Ticos are a bit more on the ball. Check that: It was Gomez who took the long-ranger, not Wanchoppe.

Oh! 52... Brilliant save, Tico keeper in the right spot to receive a slammer from Gomez, who took a good cross for the shot straight on. Costa Rica is beginning to say the Rosary. Gomez rose horizontally off the ground to kick that ball.

GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAL ECUADOR! delgado...

54... The ball was at the near-edge of the Costa Rican box, it bounced, a pass to Delgado high over a defender, he bounces it on his chest, controlling the bounce back to ground, set's it, turns, and shoots an impossibly angled shot that goes between the keeper and the post, couldn't have calibrated it more perfectly. 2-0 Ecuador.

There may be an earthquake of joy in Ecuador's highlands but don't count Los Ticos out entirely: this is not just game of inches but of moments, as a couple of games in this tournament have shown us. Need we be reminded of the Australia-Japan match-up?

63... Then again I'm sounding like those TV announcers who don;t want to lose their audience when they know not-so-deep-down that the game is virtually out of reach, done for, nailed to the Wittenberg door.

66... The Ecuadorian are now pulling some professional self-fouls, acting hurt, using up the clock, tampering with Los Ticos' rhythm. Man down, being removed on a stretcher. But the stretcher doesn't mean anything anymore: the players, especially when they're not hurt, use it the way they used to use up the clock by sprawling on the grass in the old days, playing hurt. It still eats up a minute or two.

72... Another Ecuador substitution. It's not unimaginable that Ecuador, as it did in its first game, will press for another goal for the fun of it, now that it's crossed past the 70th minute with a commanding lead. Relax, play around, unleash. Costa Rica have been shut down.

77.. Corner Ticos... a short pass for some inexplicable reason. No go. Another Ticos attack, a shot from far off, wide.

81... life again, a few attacks peppered with fouls on both sides: Ecuador is playing the way Los Ticos should--without giving up. Great attempt on goal by Ecuador's Kaviedes.

86... ANOTHER CROSSBAR SHOT, this time for Los Ticos. This is turning into the Crossbar World Cup.

90... A lively last 20 minutes, plus 4 minutes of injury time now...

GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAL ECUADOR!

Ivan Kaviedes took a cross that landed on his left foot, seven yards in front of goal, and in back of the Ticos goal.

Are these guys for real? Wonderful finish for Ecuador in every way, wonderful last twenty minutes. Too bad about the group's death now that its two winners have been decided, with two games to go; but it'll still be great fun to see Ecuador taken on Germany: the two leading scorers in the tournament at this time, battling for first place.

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