Costa Rica punch Russia 2018 ticket

Costa Rica's Kendall Waston celebrating his last-gasp equaliser against Honduras which sent his country to the 2018 World Cup Finals. They will be making their fifth finals appearance.
Costa Rica's Kendall Waston celebrating his last-gasp equaliser against Honduras which sent his country to the 2018 World Cup Finals. They will be making their fifth finals appearance.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

SAN JOSE • Kendall Waston's header deep into stoppage time gave Costa Rica a 1-1 draw with Honduras on Saturday and a 2018 World Cup Finals berth in Russia.

Eddie Hernandez headed Honduras ahead in the 66th minute, and it appeared that Costa Rica would have to put their Russia plans on hold.

But five minutes into extra time, Waston rose in the centre of the area to head in Bryan Ruiz's cross and spark joyful celebrations at the National Stadium in San Jose, where the match was postponed from Friday due to the effects of Hurricane Nate.

Costa Rica had a golden chance to take the lead in the 60th minute. Honduran goalkeeper Donis Escober had pushed a shot back into the middle of the area only for Marcos Urena to fire over the empty net. Six minutes later, Romell Quioto sprinted down the wing and crossed into the box where Hernandez connected with a thundering header to put the visitors in front.

Costa Rica, with 16 points, joined Mexico (21) in advancing from the North and Central America and Caribbean (Concacaf) region with three matches left to be played. Three Concacaf teams advance directly to the finals with the fourth-placed team to play against either Syria or Australia for a World Cup spot.

Concacaf's six-nation final round of qualifying concludes tomorrow, when the United States (12 points) travel to lowly Trinidad and Tobago, Honduras (10 points) host Mexico and Costa Rica visit Panama (10).

Costa Rica will be playing in their fifth World Cup Finals. They were quarter-finalists in Brazil in 2014 and reached the knockout stage in Italy in 1990. They also played in 2002 and 2006.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 09, 2017, with the headline 'Costa Rica punch Russia 2018 ticket'. Print Edition | Subscribe