DOHA, Qatar, June 14 – Costa Rica became the last team to qualify for this year’s World Cup as Joel Campbell’s opening goal gave the Central Americans a nervy 1-0 victory over New Zealand in the of a dam on Tuesday.
Former Arsenal striker Campbell scored in the third minute in Doha and New Zealand, who were down to 10 men in the second half, could not find an equalizer despite dominating for long periods.
Costa Rica will face Germany, Spain and Japan in a tough Group E at the tournament which kicks off in Qatar in November.
The win put Costa Rica in their third straight World Cup and sixth overall. Their best effort so far was a surprise run to the quarter-finals in 2014.
New Zealand striker Chris Wood had what he thought was a leveler ruled out by VAR shortly before half-time at the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium due to a foul earlier in the move.
The Kiwis also saw Kosta Barbarouses sent off, just eight minutes after coming on as a substitute, for a challenge on Costa Rica’s Francisco Calvo. This decision was also overturned by VAR after he was initially shown a yellow card.
“We are incredibly disappointed, we are hurting,” New Zealand coach Danny Hay said.
“I thought we were by far the better team. There was a dominant team.
He called the decision for the disallowed goal “excruciating” and said the referee should not have been in charge of the game.
Both sides had suffered greatly from the pandemic upheaval.
The entire Oceania qualifying group, which New Zealand won to reach this play-off, was held behind closed doors in Qatar this year due to the coronavirus.
Costa Rica star Bryan Ruiz contracted Covid-19 two weeks before Tuesday’s game and the team had to deny accusations they played two infected players against Jamaica in January.
New Zealand’s neighbors Australia took 31st place in the same stadium on Monday by beating Peru 5-4 on penalties.
The first World Cup in an Arab country begins in Qatar on November 21, with the final on December 18.