Chinchilla double pushes Costa Rica past El Salvador for shot at quarter finals

February 26 – Costa Rica kept themselves in contention for a quarter final spot with a 2-0 win over a battling El Salvador. Both goals were breakaways scored by Priscilla Chinchilla.

Costa Rica and El Salvador were playing for a shot at second place in the group. A win for either would put them level with Paraguay on points and with a shot at the quarter finals.

Costa Rica face the tough task of getting something out of their final tie against Canada while El Salvador could still theoretically go though but would have to beat Paraguay by three goals and hope Canada beat Costa Rica by five.

Costa Rica came in to the game with a point to prove. Having failed to take their chances against Paraguay in their opening group game, they ended up losing 1-0 as Paraguay muscled them out. El Salvador had had a difficult evening against Canada losing 6-0.

El Salvador qualifying for the finals through the preliminary round play-offs, but have not been afraid to take their more exulted opposition head-on, rather than setting up a defensive bloc and riding their luck.

This is their first major tournament finals. Costa Rica played at the W Championship in 2022 and the World Cup finals in 2023.

It was Costa Rica who had the all-important breakthrough after 8 minutes. Captain Raquel Rodriguez released Priscila Chinchilla into space behind the El Salvador defence to run in and slot the ball past Idalia Serrano.

Rodriguez was a class apart in Costa Rica’s midfield. On 18’ she drove from midfield and spotting Serrano off her line lofted a shot from 30m that bounced off the bar

El Salvador responded with long shots of their own. On 26’ Samantha Fisher broke through the moddle but hit her shot wide from distance.

Two minutes later, with El Salvador starting find some control of the ball in the Costa Rican half, they worked the ball to their star striker Brenda Seren, tirelessly working the front line, who found space turning her defender to hit a shot high but on to the bar.

Costa Rica’s offense was built around their counterattack. On 38’ Serrano punched a header off her line to keep El Salvador in the game and still  half time

Just four minutes into the second half, with El Salvador pressing Costa Rica delivered the killer blow. A ball through the middle sent Chinchilla free in the El Salvador half to slot the ball past Serrano at the second attempt.

It was a cruel reward for El Salvador’s attempts to take the game to Costa Rica.

El Salvador kept pushing the pace.  couldn’t keep her shot down. Two minutes later the ball cannoned around the Costa rica 6-yard box before going out for a goal kick.

El Salvador were in control of the ball but couldn’t find the final pass in the box to create clear cut chances, and as they chased the game were vulnerable on the counter attack.

With the clock counting down six minutes of added time El Salvador threw everything they had at Costa Rica. They will be back on Wednesday to do the same against Paraguay.

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