Ireland pegged back by 10-man Costa Rica

Kevin Doyle returns to the scoresheet but Ireland rue missed Robbie Keane penalty

Republic of Ireland’s Robbie Keane misses a penalty against Costa Rica. Photograph: INPHO/Donall Farmer

Republic of Ireland’s Robbie Keane misses a penalty against Costa Rica. Photograph: INPHO/Donall Farmer

Sat, Jun 7, 2014, 06:52

Ireland 1 Costa Rica 1

High drama by the Delaware River but there was no win for Martin O’Neill’s team in the first match of the fancifully-named Freedom Cup. Two penalties, one missed by the least likely of lads, defined the second half but Costa Rica departed the gorgeous little Philadelphia Union stadium the happier of the two countries. A goal and a defender down at half time, they might have stolen a win here after a courageous second half.

A return to scoring form for Kevin Doyle, a robust evening in the heart of the defence by Richie Keogh, an assured debut by Shane Duffy and the seldom seen sight of a spurned Robbie Keane penalty summed up the night for the Irish. As always, Martin O’Neill was measured in his analysis but was disappointed by Ireland’s failure to press on.

“I thought that we got a really good goal by Kevin Doyle and did really fine in the first half of the match, dealing with anything they threw at us reasonably comfortably. Then they had the man sent off and I don’t know if we got casual but we had a really poor spell in the first fifteen minutes of the second half culminating with the penalty.”

The first half was largely defined by Kevin Doyle’s head. The Wexford man opened the scoring in the 18th minute with a powerfully placed and accurate header, rising to meet what was an exquisite cross by Marc Wilson and directing his shot to the left of Keylor Navas. He turned to celebrate into what was an entirely empty terrace on the Delaware river side of the stadium before facing his team mates to celebrate what was a first international goal since September 2012. But five minutes before half time, he was receiving treatment for a deep gash after clashing with Giancarlo Gonzalez.

Earlier, Doyle, full of industry from the kick-off, had inadvertently caught Gonzalez when he was jumping for the ball but in the 40th minute, the Costa Rican defender returned the attention with interest. He clattered Doyle with a glancing elbow, who began to remonstrate angrily before blood began streaming down his face. Referee Raul Castro flashed a yellow to Gonzalez and then, as if disturbed by the sight of blood, upgraded it to red. Gonzalez disappeared down the tunnel, the latest casualty in what has been a turbulent World Cup preparation for the Central Americans.

The disappointment was that Ireland couldn’t capitalise on that numerical advantage. Instead, they found themselves hemmed in as the Costa Ricans pressed adventurously and repeatedly threatened to expose the Irish, with Joel Campbell and Marco Urena coming to life. Richie Keogh made a stretching tackle to deny Urena in the 51st minute but the composure which had distinguished Ireland’s play in the first half was beginning to disappear as the Costa Ricans started to enjoy themselves. In the 63rd minute, a clever slide-rule pass from Campbell split James McClean and Shane Duffy and David Forde, scampering across to cover, caught Urena’s boots. Celso Borges levelled the match from the penalty spot.

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