Gold Cup: Own goal allows Costa Rica to avoid embarrassment vs. Belize

Belize nearly did it. They nearly pulled off a major upset against Costa Rica on Saturday night at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sand, Utah.

But an own goal from Dalton Eiley in the 49th minute and a last-minute goal-line clearance by the Ticos did the Belizeans in to the tune of 1-0, as Costa Rica posted a second straight win to climb into a tie for first place in Group C with the United States.

Costa Rica, whose lineup featured an all-MLS strikeforce made up of Real Salt Lake’s Alvaro Saborio and Columbus Crew’s Jairo Arrieta, dominated the match, outshooting Belize 19-4.

But they weren’t able to break through until the second half. Eiley, tracking back into his own area, was unlucky with his defensive touch, redirected a cross from Costa Rica’s Kenny Cunnigham into the back of the net.

In the 77th minute, a second own goal nearly doubled the lead for Costa Rica, but goalkeeper Woodrow West pushed the ball off the post and out of danger.

That would almost prove pivotal. With seconds to go, substitute Trevor Lennon latched onto a loose ball on a corner kick misplayed by the goalkeeper, but his looping header was cleared just before going into an open net. 

With the win, Costa Rica book their place in the quarterfinals. They will finish up group play against the USA on Tuesday with first place in the offing.

Belize will finish their first-ever Gold Cup participation on Tuesday, when they take on Cuba.