Sun. 4 Feb 1990
Miami Orange Bowl,
Ref.: Vincent Mauro
L1: Raúl Domínguez
This was the final in the Miami based issue of the Marlboro Cup, a series of tournaments held annually across various US cities. It was the first of four 1990 such competitions, with the three later versions taking place in Los Angeles (later in February), Chicago (May) and New York (August).
Four teams had been summoned to this particular mini-tournament, with Colombia and host nation USA participants in addition to the pair which were playing out this final. There had been a pair of semi-finals two days earlier, with these outcomes:
Colombia 0 – 2 Uruguay (Pedrucci and Castro)
USA 0 – 2 Costa Rica (Cayasso and Díaz)
This had resulted in the losers coming together in the third-place play-off, which took part prior to the final:
USA 1 – 1 Colombia (Wynaldo – Fajardo)
Colombia won 9-8 on penalties
All matches were played in the same stadium.
Team news Costa Rica
The Central Americans, now led by Marvin Rodríguez, who had taken over from Gustavo de Simone in the wake of a 1-0 qualifying loss in Guatemala, had completed their World Cup qualification schedule by medio July the previous year. At Italia ’90, they were looking to compete at the global stage for the very first time.
More than half a year had passed since Costa Rica’s final qualifier, a 1-0 home win over El Salvador, and it was time to step up their level of preparation ahead of the World Cup. The 2-0 win over hosts USA two days earlier had been a terrific achievement, with goals from mainstays Juan Cayasso and Enrique Díaz, the first a delicate chip over the goalkeeper from close range.
Rodríguez had brought a fairly experienced squad with him, although there had been two starting debutants against the Americans in the shape of defenders Carlos Garro and Alexis Camacho, the latter a highly regarded centre-back on the domestic scene with leading club side Saprissa of capital San José.
One notable absentee was goalkeeper Luis Gabelo Conejo, who had started all of Costa Rica’s ten qualifying matches. Jorge Hidalgo had come on for Conejo during their 1-1 draw in Trinidad&Tobago, and looked set to deputize for him on this occasion. An in-game TV camera sweep along the Costa Rican substitutes’ bench revealed that Conejo had indeed travelled to Florida. Among other players who had featured regularly during the World Cup qualification and not present here, were midfielders Carlos Hidalgo and Claudio Jara. There were also fitness doubts regarding team captain Róger Flores. The defender had not featured in the win over USA.
Team news Uruguay
Óscar Tabárez and his staff had arrived in Florida with a squad which was nowhere near full strength. They had disposed of fellow South Americans Colombia in the competition’s semi-final two days earlier, and a total of four players had made their debuts, one of these from start. In the latter category was young and highly talented forward Daniel Fonseca, a 20 year old of Nacional. He was already rumoured to be on his way to Italy after the World Cup, although his destination had not yet been revealed. In addition to Fonseca, Pedro Pedrucci, a 28 year old midfielder of Progreso, as well as 25 year old forward Johnny Miqueiro (also Progreso) and 19 year old Gabriel Cedrés (Peñarol), also a front-runner, had come on during the course of the game.
Nine players from their Copa América squad of 22 the previous year in Brazil were confirmed part of this competition. They were young goalkeeper Óscar Ferro, defenders Alfonso Domínguez, José Pintos Saldanha and skipper Hugo de León, midfielders Rubén Pereira, Santiago Ostolaza, Gabriel Correa and Edison Suárez, as well as young forward Sergio Martínez. Still, only de León, Domínguez and Ostolaza were considered first team regulars based on how Tabárez had lined his charges up in the World Cup qualification.
A 46 year old American citizen by the name of Vincent Mauro, born in Italy, had been put in charge. He had officiated in the 1988 Olympic Games in South Korea, albeit only the group stage tie between Nigeria and eventual finalists Brazil. Mauro had also been awarded three matches in the 1988 Asian Cup, which had been held in Qatar, and he’d run the rule over two first phase fixtures in the 1989 Copa América.
Costa Rica (5-2-3)
|1 Jorge Hidalgo||26||Saprissa|
|4 Mauricio Montero||26||Alajuelense|
|5 Marvin Obando||sub 76′||29||Herediano|
|8 Germán Chavarría||31||Herediano|
|11 Evaristo Coronado (c)||sub 58′||29||Saprissa|
|14 Juan Cayasso||28||Saprissa|
|15 Enrique Díaz||30||Saprissa|
|16 Carlos Garro||sub h-t||Saprissa|
|17 Hernán Medford||21||Saprissa|
|18 Alexis Camacho||sub 24′||Saprissa|
|19 Héctor Marchena||25||Cartaginés|
|2 Vladimir Quesada||on h-t||23||Saprissa|
|3 Róger Flores||on 24′||32||Saprissa|
|9 Leónidas Flores||on 58′||25||Supra Montreal|
|10 Óscar Ramírez||on 76′||25||Alajuelense|
|x Luis Gabelo Conejo||30||AD Ramonense|
|1 Fernando Álvez||30||Peñarol|
|2 Jorge Gonçalves||22||Peñarol|
|3 Hugo de León (c)||31||River Plate|
|4 José Saldanha||25||Nacional|
|5 Rubén Pereira||44′||22||Danubio|
|6 Alfonso Domínguez||24||Peñarol|
|7 Sergio Martínez||sub 74′||20||Defensor|
|8 Santiago Ostolaza||27||Nacional|
|9 Daniel Fonseca||sub h-t||20||Nacional|
|11 William Castro||27||Nacional|
|15 Pedro Pedrucci||sub 83′||28||Progreso|
|14 Gabriel Correa||on 83′||22||Peñarol|
|17 Johnny Miqueiro||on 74′||25||Progreso|
|18 Gabriel Cedrés||on h-t||19||Peñarol|
|x Óscar Ferro||22||Peñarol|
Our tape from the game has an ‘in medias res’ opening to it, as we are not entitled to the very kick-off. However, we arrive only a few seconds into the proceedings, with Uruguay in possession inside their own half.
Their manager Tabárez had made just a single change to the eleven which had begun the game against Colombia, with Pedrucci replacing Suárez in midfield. As for the Costa Ricans, they had also made a solitary change since their most recent outing, and in place of midfielder José Chaves had come Héctor Marchena, who had even replaced Chaves during the USA win.
Uruguay were an established 4-3-3 outfit under Tabárez, and there was no change around in their numbers combination on this occasion, despite the fact that they were drastically changed in playing materiell. They did appear to be based on a solid defensive foundation in which captain Hugo de León was the talismanic figure. On this occasion he was without his regular central defensive partner Nelson Gutiérrez, who was obviously engaged with his Italian league side Hellas Verona, playing away to Lazio on the same day (the Rome club incidentally his former employer in Serie A – the game would end scoreless). It was only de León, diminutive left-back Alfonso Domínguez and sizeable midfielder Santiago Ostolaza who remained from their regular starting eleven from last year’s Copa América and World Cup qualification.
Costa Rica supremo Marvin Rodríguez had looked to add steel to his defence through the addition of Marchena. While his predecessor in the eleven, Chaves, had most likely started in midfield, Marchena was now one of three central defenders in the starting line-up. While de León was the leading character at the back for the South Americans, Róger Flores was a player of similar influence on his surroundings. However, Costa Rica’s customary captain had missed out on the win against USA, and was only on the substitutes’ bench here. Libero on this occasion was Mauricio Montero, who had Marchena and Alexis Camacho ahead of him. Their formation clearly had a 5-2-3 outlook about it.
Uruguay look like they mean business right from the word ‘go’, as they look to seize the early initiative, keeping possession inside the Costa Rican half of the pitch. They look alert and attentative, and their early pressing play is quite formidable, leaving the opposition with few opportunities other than hitting it long towards their front runners, something which usually sees the Uruguayans regain the upper hand.
Seven minutes in, the Uruguay side, clad in their traditional light blue shirts and black shorts, charge through midfield and up the field, and it is light-footed midfielder Pedro Pedrucci leading the way. His burst sees him arrive inside the Costa Rican penalty area, although there looks to be little danger in terms of goal threat as Pedrucci finds himself in the left-sided corner of the box. However, acting libero Montero, who had failed in an attempt to stop Pedrucci with a tackle outside the area, returned for a second challenge, and the Uruguay midfielder, with his back to goal, was unceremoniously scythed down by the defender, and a penalty was the right decision by referee Mauro. Up stepped William Castro to dispatch with aplomb, as he fired it high into the net with goalkeeper Jorge Hidalgo committed. Terrific strike for 1-0.
Chance for levelling score
In possession, Costa Rica appear more willing to make use of their left hand side than the right. It is the gangly Díaz featuring as their left-sided forward option, and he is a keen contributor, at times engaging in play well inside his own half. Across from him is the youthful Hernán Medford, who has yet to make an impact. Between them, as the centre-forward, is the experienced Evaristo Coronado, the team captain on this occasion. He is being closely monitored by Gonçalves, and has also had little say in proceedings thus far.
Three minutes after Castro’s penalty, Costa Rica come close to snatching an equalizer. They had been able to make use of the ball in spells, and it was a ball up from Marchena at the back which suddenly caught the Uruguayan defence square, allowing Medford to sneak in behind their back. With the ball bouncing, the right-sided forward arrived one on one with Álvez, though as the 21 year old attempted a lob, he was really too close to the goalkeeper to have a great chance of succeeding. As it were, Medford’s attempt drifted a yard and a half wide, and it even looked like the ‘keeper had got a touch, although no corner kick was given.
Less than two minutes later, the Costa Ricans are given another opportunity to claw their way back into the contest, as a long up and under from right-back Carlos Garro, a fairly tigerish player based on this performance, sees Coronado battle with his marker Gonçalves for the ball, though as the latter is adjudged to have obstructed the Costa Rica skipper, there’s a free-kick in a decent position for the Central American outfit. Cayasso can’t make much of it, though, as he attempts to deceive the opposition by lifting a quick ball towards the centre of the area rather than have a go. It is easily cleared.
Uruguay have another
Costa Rica’s libero Montero had poorly given away the penalty for 1-0 through his unnecessarily rash challenge on Pedrucci, and he was once again involved as Uruguay increased their advantage in their next wave of attack. They looked to find Fonseca in the right hand channel following a ball up from Ostolaza inside his own half. A combined effort from Marchena and Montero looked to have fended off the attack, though the latter clumsily conceded possession right on the edge of the area, allowing the on-rushing Sergio Martínez to seize the ball. His burst took him deep inside the area, with goalkeeper Hidalgo coming off his line to try and dent him. The custodian couldn’t prevent the ball from rebounding into Martínez’ foot as he parried, though with the ball drifting wide, it needed an ill-fated attempted clearance on the line by centre-back Marchena. The ball spectacularly ended up high into the back of his own net. While some sources opted to register Martínez with the goal, it was clear from the behind-the-goal camera that the ball was going wide from the right-sided forward’s touch until Marchena’s intervention. 2-0 it was nevertheless.
In normal circumstances, where both teams were at full strength, one would have favoured the South Americans, as they were usually so reliable defensively that you wouldn’t expect them to let a two goal lead slip. However, with so many changes in the Celeste line-up, the outcome still remained open to debate, although it would take a grandiose effort from the Ticos to get back on level terms, let alone to win the game.
Despite the fact that Uruguay were so drastically changed since their Copa América and World Cup qualification exploits the previous year, one still very clearly saw how the team carried an Óscar Washington Tabárez print. Their 4-3-3 principles remained intact, and even player roles appeared to mirror those of before.
Defensively, they were without customary right-back José Herrera, though his deputee José Pintos Saldanha looked to fill in aptly, even taking over Herrera’s number 4 shirt. It was likewise in the centre, where stand-in Gonçalves was operating in Gutiérrez’ #2 jersey. Saldanha did have his work cut out against the lively Díaz, who was one of Costa Rica’s more inventive players, while at centre half Uruguay were containing the Ticos skipper, Coronado, with relative ease so far.
The rangey Ostolaza, in normal circumstances working slightly ahead of the defensive midfielder, was this time giving his best interpretation of the holding role which was usually reserved for José Perdomo. Ostolaza dropped deep, he would pick the ball off his central defenders when they were building from the back, and he offered apt cover for Gonçalves and de León when Costa Rica were mounting attacks. To have a player of his size in that role didn’t necessarily have to be a bad idea.
Further ahead of Ostolaza in midfield, Rubén Pereira had stepped into the now holding midfield man’s shoes, although he was clearly a different type of player, relying more on skill in possession rather than an intimidation game through sheer physics. Pereira would cover greater distances, and he was perhaps the player in this select to differ the most from the original. However, what Uruguay lost in size and mettle, they made up for in mobility, even if Pereira hadn’t been in the game a whole lot in the opening 20 minutes.
Tabárez had relied on the immensely talented contribution from Rubén Paz when all of his best players had been available to him, while on this occasion the ‘Paz role’ had gone to someone with preciously little experience from an international level in Pedro Pedrucci. This was the 28 year old of Progreso’s first start in the Celeste shirt, as he had come off the bench to replace Edison Suárez in that hardfought win against the Colombians. Indeed, he had even opened the scoring then, and there was clearly something about him which one could understand had appealed to the management team. Pedrucci gave the impression of someone being somewhat fragile, as he would not seek to engage in battle. He could treat the ball with a level of delicacy, and, like Paz, he was equipped with a left foot which could pick a pass and, probably, direct an effort goalwards. The latter he had yet not been able to display.
Uruguay’s most reputable player worldwide is Enzo Francescoli, currently playing for wealthy French club Olympique Marseille. In his absence, the number 9 shirt had gone to fledgling forward Daniel Fonseca, who did his best to impersonate the talismanic attack player. Fonseca would drop back and look for the ball, working off the Costa Rican central defenders, while he would look to connect with the two wide attackers when they were coming forward. To the right was the energetic Sergio Martínez, who had played a starring role for the second goal, and his efforts were not too dissimilar to the ones of the highly experienced Antonio Alzamendi before him.
If Pereira had not quite replicated Ostolaza, then there was a second member of this particular eleven which also didn’t mirror the player whom he had stepped in for. Few players, even in a global perspective, mirrored the directness of Rubén Sosa, who usually played as their left-sided forward. With him busy earning his Lira in Italy, the significantly taller William Castro had taken over left wing duties. Castro was up against a fierce direct opponent in right-back Garro, though he did enjoy a bit of possession out in wing territory, looking deceptively slow due to the lenient way which he treated the ball. Rather than run into space, like Sosa, Castro would want the ball played to his feet.
The Central Americans surely had not had in their game plan to be two goals down in the early stages, yet this was what they needed to adjust to. They were looking sketchy at the back, where both Marchena and not least Montero had looked uncertain so far. The third central defensive player, Camacho, was at times drawn out of position looking to track Fonseca’s whereabouts.
Only a few minutes after conceding the second, they come close to snatching a goal of their own when a free-kick played into the centre from the left hand channel by Obando reached Marchena, only for the centre-back’s header via the ground to be tipped onto the bar by goalkeeper Álvez. There was a chance of a follow-up, although the referee would ultimately signal a free-kick for the Uruguayans, possibly for a push, or maybe even for an offside decision against Díaz.
With no Conejo between the sticks, this task had gone to Jorge Hidalgo, who had been the first choice’s understudy during the World Cup qualification. He’d been brought on once during that ten games series.
In the absence of Flores, it had been Montero slotting into the spare man role at the back. He’d looked a shaken player in the early stages, and would need to drastically up his game. Ahead of him were Marchena and Camacho, with the latter looking to keep an eye on Fonseca.
Working as full-backs were Garro along the right and Obando to the left. The former, like Camacho in the centre, had not featured at all during the qualification, but he sure looked a feisty character with the way he battled it out with Castro so far. Obando looked more comfortable on the ball than his full-back counterpart, and would gladly assist the more advanced team members by coming forward along that left hand side.
One could always debate whether they were playing with two or four in midfield, depending on how one viewed the pair of wide players: Should Medford and Díaz be seen as attackers or midfielders? They were not without defensive tasks, Díaz probably more so than Medford, but then again both clearly enjoyed coming forward more than they were keen on engaging inside their own half. In the centre were Cayasso and the workmanlike Chavarría, with the latter being the more visible figure among the pair in these initial phases.
Up top was Coronado, another player who had featured prominently during their World Cup qualification campaign, and who was wearing the captain’s armband on this occasion. He was finding it difficult to make an impression as he was often left isolated, and he was battling it out against a pair of sturdy, rugged Uruguayan centre-halves.
The disappointment to the management team must have been to see how they failed to cope defensively with the opposition. This was also down to individual mistakes, though there was little going right for the Costa Ricans until they found themselves a pair of goals down. They did begin to claw their way back into the contest by having a more settled approach, although it would take a mammoth task to work their way back to level terms.
It is possible that Costa Rica’s regular team captain, the dependable centre-back that was Róger Flores, had been away and only rejoined the group of players on the day of the game. Hence Rodríguez had not wanted to admit him straight back into the eleven. The matchday commentator does hint about Flores having been away due to his taking part in Zico’s farewell match at Flamengo “two days earlier”, although any search will reveal that this ‘despedida’ match in fact occured two days after today’s clash in Miami, on February 6 (and no Flores would take part at the big do in the Maracanã). Also, the commentator claims that it had not been Róger Flores who had been away at all, but rather his namesake Leoni Flores, a forward, who would indeed come on later in the game. However, the latter had only made a few appearances in the World Cup qualification, and did not seem to have the same standing in Costa Rican football-lore as defensive lynchpin Róger. So what was this commentator’s tale all about anyway?
24 minutes in, Róger Flores was brought on for Camacho. The latter had not been directly involved in either of the two Uruguay goals, but he was sacrificed for the sake of the collective nevertheless. There was no hint of an injury as he made his way to the touchline to be replaced by the 30 year old of both reigning and electing champions Saprissa.
The arrival of Flores brought some reshuffling in the centre of the Costa Rican defence, with the so far hapless Montero switching from libero to a more customary centre-back role, as the substitute took over duties as the spare man of defence. There was no immediate switch in the captaincy, with centre-forward Coronado continuing to lead his troops.
Uruguay content to sit back
There is no doubt that the game has evened out. Uruguay had swarmed all over the opposition in the initial phase, but had now retracted further back, with no great need to cause further and immediate distress upon the opponents. An early 2-0 lead was probably more than they had imagined, and defensively they had rarely been put to the test, that Marchena header tipped onto the bar by Álvez the solitary exception yet.
With a strong shield in front of their own goalkeeper, the Uruguayans could afford to hand the initiative over to the Costa Ricans. Pereira and Pedrucci went through quite an amount of work out of possession, though with Costa Rica at times prone to search for their wide players to provide the main threat, both Saldanha and Domínguez, the pair of full-backs, needed to remain vigilant. While the latter had looked to maintain control over the young and tactically somewhat unschooled Medford, it was a slightly different proposition along Uruguay’s right hand side, where Díaz turned out to be a handful for Saldanha. Left-back Obando would also move into attacking territory for the Costa Ricans down this flank.
Through to half time
The Costa Rica side are doing well to largely remain in possession for the final phase of the opening period. They resemble a much more secure outfit defensively once they’ve had Flores reinstalled to the team, while Montero, who had hardly shone as the libero in Flores’ absence, regained his composure as he was back in a more customary centre-half role.
In midfield, Chavarría was keeping it simple, yet quite a few balls went through him as he would often angle a pass out wide, preferably towards the left, where Obando and Díaz still were looking to exploit Saldanha’s defensive territory. However, it was along the opposite flank where Costa Rica carved out possibly their best opening in the remainder of the half, as Marchena had crossed the halfway line ball at feet, and with Uruguay left-back Domínguez lured somewhat high up the pitch, Medford would take advantage by running into the space left behind the defender. Marchena executed his pass to perfection, though Medford, as the ball bobbled up in front of him, couldn’t aim his effort on target once he’d raced into the area.
There were also few moments of danger in front of Hidalgo through to half-time, with Ostolaza having let one fly on half volley 35 yards out. It had just gone wide of the ‘keeper’s upright, as it would’ve made some serious headlines had it gone in from that distance.
Pace-wise the game didn’t hit the roof; it was played out in relatively sedate fashion. Both teams were holding the accelerator back somewhat, and there were few challenges which brought the spectators to the edge of their seats. However, a few minutes from the half-time whistle, Uruguay’s combative midfield man Pereira saw yellow for a tough challenge on Costa Rica’s right-back Garro. Nothing malicious, he was just late.
Two goals to the good as the first half ended made Uruguay strong favourites to claim the Marlboro Cup.
Both coaches had made changes during the interval, as the teams reappeared with Costa Rica about to kick-off through Medford and skipper for the occasion, Coronado. They had picked themselves up after conceding twice early, although they had struggled to make much of an impact in the Uruguayan penalty area. The Celeste, on the other hand, were looking quite content to sit back on their two goal lead.
Coming on for Uruguay was teenage striker Gabriel Cedrés of Peñarol, replacing another young forward in Fonseca, whom we hadn’t seen all that much of during the first 45 minutes. Tabárez had apparently made the same change during the 2-0 win over the Colombians. For the Central American outfit, right-back Garro, who had been on the receiving end of a stifling Pereira challenge towards the end of the first half, although he’d played out the remaining few minutes without much suggesting that he had injured himself, had been replaced by another Saprissa man in 23 year old Vladimir Quesada, who had been a qualification regular in that position.
Second half unfolds
There appears to be no immediate upturn in fortune for Costa Rica, who find themselves second best once the final 45 minutes of action get under way. Uruguay look composed and confident in how they stroke the ball between themselves, not allowing the opposition time to settle and build confidence.
Cedrés had certainly replaced Fonseca through the centre, though he would see some interchanging of positions with wide right forward Martínez. He was quite a powerfully built forward, was teenager Cedrés, who was not afraid to put himself about even against the sturdy Costa Rican centre-halves. He would accept making runs into the channels to try and hold the ball up and bring team mates into play.
Despite their advantage in possession, Uruguay had little urgency about their play. Being 2-0 up, though, this was hardly a great surprise. The game didn’t have a lot of pace, and defending was a relatively doable task for players of both teams. Costa Rica would put together a fine move seven minutes in, as they built along the left, with full-back Obando being instrumental. Medford had come across and tried to angle a pass back for any team mate to run on to, but the Uruguayans managed to hack it clear before any real danger could arise.
One player whom the Costa Rican management team surely had faith in was centre-back Montero. His confidence still appeared to be suffering after he’d started so badly in the libero role, and though he had improved once he’d been moved into a regular central defensive position, he was back to his worst early in the second half. Three times in succession he lost possession inside his own half, as he was so sloppy it was unbelievable for a player at international level. Manager Rodríguez would have to contemplate replacing him unless he improved.
On the topic of replacements, right-back Quesada did look a step up from Garro, especially coming forward. He was not afraid to ask for the ball, and would look to build from the right hand side. With Medford sometimes a little isolated in that right sided forward role, Quesada’s contribution seemed welcome. He would even have a pop from 25 yards out, although his shot ultimately drifted a couple of storeys over Álvez’ crossbar.
Striker Coronado, who had hardly been in the game all afternoon, was replaced 13 minutes after the break, as Leoni Flores was introduced. This saw busy little midfielder Chavarría, the team’s most senior member, take over the captain’s armband from the departing number 11. Flores, no relation to the team libero, slotted straight into Coronado’s position as the centre-forward. Up against that pair of strong Uruguayan centre-halves, he would need to impose himself to a much greater extent than his predecessor if he were to have a say.
The South Americans displayed some nice technique, cute little touches, although they would not always win a lot of yards. Particularly Pedrucci seemed prone to wanting to flick the ball on by use of one touch only. It was neat, although not always as effective as he’d wanted. At times, it was a case of two steps forward and one step back. Martínez seemed the member of the Uruguayan team the most bent on maintaining a decent level of tempo in his play. He would arrive at an opportunity around 65 minutes, as a cross from a deep left-sided position by Castro found him advancing in the area, although he couldn’t direct his finish goalwards as the ball arrived to him across the area.
No Costa Rican rally staged
The longer the second half progresses, the more evident the difference in class is. Uruguay are ever so confident with the clock reaching the 75 minute mark, and only during the past five minutes have they had three attempts at goal. The lively Martínez had struck one ferociously from the edge of the area, although the shot went just too high. Pedrucci had advanced with the ball bouncing kindly for him on the uneven pitch, and he let one roll off his left foot from 25 yards, only to see it drift a yard high. Pereira then set himself up from a similar distance, albeit in a more central position, although his effort was the poorest of the three, as he sent his right-foot shot well wide to the left of Hidalgo’s goal.
It had been a poor 30 minutes of second half action from the Central American outfit, which had not always looked hugely interested in trying to retrieve anything from the contest. They had been sloppy at the back, and only really Chavarría had bothered to close down in midfield, with Cayasso rather a more luxury player on this display. This left Costa Rica overrun in central areas, and they were rarely able to work the ball in the direction of their forwards, among which the recently arrived (Leoni) Flores had hardly made a difference. In fact, the pair of full-backs had looked the more likely players to contribute, and while Obando had had his work cut out against Martínez, he was at least sound coming forward. Would he find it easier when up against the latest Uruguayan introduction in Johnny Miqueiro, as Tabárez opted to rest Martínez for the final quarter of an hour?
Through to full time
There was not a whole lot taking place which would raise the pulses of those in attendance, but it must be stressed that Uruguay went about their task very professionally. They did not allow themselves to lower their guard and invite the Costa Ricans back into the game, and in the remaining quarter of an hour they would generally maintain possession. Miqueiro didn’t quite match Martínez’ performance in what little time he admittedly got to make a name for himself; he seemed quite lightweight. Shortly after he had been introduced, he would face a different adversary in the shape of a new player for the Costa Rica left-back position. Obando, who had done reasonably well, gave way for midfielder Óscar Ramírez, something which meant a reshuffle in which they even altered their formation to 5-3-2, as left-sided forward Díaz went back into that left-back slot. The idea could well have been to have at least one centre-back contribute by coming forward and participate in the build-up of attacks, though with such a haphazard performance from Montero, it was never going to be his night, and so this tactic seemed to backfire.
Ramírez did show some neat touches in midfield; he would appear as the left-sided man among the three, with Cayasso across from him and Chavarría in the centre. Medford was not given the opportunity to showcase his speed, and by now he was playing in a tandem up top alongside Leoni Flores.
The Uruguayans would make their fourth and final change seven minutes from time, when Pedrucci, who had left a fine impression, went off for Peñarol’s somewhat more internationally established midfield dynamo Gabriel Correa. During Uruguay’s fourth and final World Cup qualifier, the 2-0 home win against Peru, Correa had operated in the holding midfield role, though there was to be no switch around for Ostolaza, who had held this position since kick-off on this occasion. This meant that Correa supported Pereira in the more advanced midfield position. The trio were all composed in possession, though by the time of Correa’s introduction, Costa Rica hardly had any hope left of salvaging anything from the game.
The final occurence was a free-kick in a promising position for Uruguay, as Pereira had been bundled over just outside the Costa Rican penalty area. It presented Castro with an opportunity to strike at goal with his gifted left foot, though he could not add to his tally as he just put too much weight on it, and it went a feet over Hidalgo’s crossbar. With time on referee Mauro’s clock up, he drew an end to the game with a thoroughly deserved win for the South Americans.
Uruguay have an emphatic start to the game with two goals inside the opening 13 minutes, and though they do relinquish possession quite a lot for a 20-25 minute spell in the opening period, there is only really one scare for them defensively, which is when Marchena heads off the bar via the ground, with Álvez getting a touch.
Some Costa Rican players endure a torrid afternoon, and none more so than Montero, who in all earnest has a shocking display at centre-half. Costa Rica had added a greater level of security at the back through the early introduction of Róger Flores, but a recovery from that two goal deficit is never on the cards. They produce very little, and find the Uruguayan back four too sturdy a proposition to break down.
With no Gutiérrez or even Daniel Revelez around, captain de León, who will show little emotion as he lifts the trophy which shows that they’re the Marlboro Cup winners, has another companion at centre-half in Jorge Gonçalves, who did his world cup squad ambitions no harm at all with a faultless display, albeit against limited opposition. Another such candidate is wide forward Martínez, who was also one of the more eye-catching players of the evening.
It is a well deserved victory in the end for the Celeste, who never had to play up to their full potential to brush Costa Rica aside.