Costa Rica has claimed the final position at the Qatar 2022 World Cup after downing 10-man New Zealand 1-0 in the intercontinental playoff at Al Rayyan Stadium in Doha, Qatar.
A day after New Zealand’s neighbours Australia progressed to the World Cup at the same venue, the Kiwis were the better side throughout the 90 minutes but found themselves 1-0 down via a third minute Joel Campbell goal and were left with a mountain to climb when Kosta Barbarouses was sent off in the second half.
The Costa Ricans have now qualified for their third consecutive World Cup and will move into Group E – which features Spain, Germany and Japan.
New Zealand found themselves behind after only three minutes when former Arsenal striker Campbell clinically converted Jewison Bennette’s cross to give the Costa Ricans the best possible start.
However, the Kiwis failed to throw the towel in and thought they had drawn level just before half-time with Chris Wood’s strike, however the goal was ruled out by VAR for a foul in the build-up.
New Zealand continued to have all the momentum despite the score deficit until Barbarouses saw red on 69 minutes for a studs-up challenge on Francisco Calvo.
Barbarouses’ challenge had been initially deemed a yellow but was upgraded to a red card by the referee after VAR intervention.
Despite the man disadvantage, New Zealand still forced excellent saves out of Costa Rica goalkeeper Keylor Navas via Clayton Wood’s long-range effort and Wood’s low drive.
But Costa Rica withstood the heavy pressure in the final moments to book their ticket to Qatar, as New Zealand coach Danny Hay criticised the officiating during the match.
“I thought some of the officiating at times was absolutely atrocious. People can make their own mind up about that,” Hay said post-match.
“When we saw the announcement and then we looked at what Australia and Peru had last night with good quality European officiating, I thought FIFA have made a mistake there in such an important game.
“I think they’ve let us down by putting somebody in charge that clearly has not officiated at this sort of level.”