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Quick-Striking Costa Rica Spoils China's Debut in Cup, 2-0

June 05, 2002|Grahame L. Jones

SEOUL — Costa Rica scored two goals in a four-minute span in the second half Tuesday to secure a 2-0 victory and spoil China's World Cup debut in front of 27,217 fans, including 15,000 Chinese, at Gwangju, South Korea.

After battling for an hour to break down China's stubborn defense, the Central Americans finally took the lead in the 61st minute when Ronald Gomez beat goalkeeper Jiang Jin with a curling shot from inside the penalty area.

Four minutes later, Gomez beat a defender on the edge of the area and crossed the ball for Mauricio Wright to head downward past Jiang.

China Coach Bora Milutinovic, who had coached Costa Rica into the second round of the Italy '90 World Cup, was philosophical afterward.

"We played well but it wasn't enough," he said. "What can you do if you lose a game like this? They had two kicks at the goal and scored two goals. But if you cannot accept that, you should not be at the World Cup."

Ma Mingyu, the Chinese captain, said Milutinovic had warned that Costa Rica could strike suddenly.

"It is disappointing that their two goals came so quickly together," Ma said. "The coach told us beforehand that Costa Rica plays in short spurts, and in the end that was the difference.

"We needed to stay focused for 90 minutes, but we lost it [concentration] in the second half."

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