Uruguay 1-3 Costa Rica
14 June 2014
Estadio Castelao, Fortaleza, Brazil
World Cup Group D
Scorers: Cavani (Uruguay), Campbell, Duarte, Urena (Costa Rica)

Costa Rica pulled off a major shock in the heat of Fortaleza to take the UFWC title from Uruguay with an excellent 3-1 win, inspired by Arsenal youngster Joel Campbell. The new Unofficial Football World Champions will face Italy in another title match on Friday.

This was actually Costa Rica’s sixth UFWC title match victory, although their first since 1963. They were ranked 29th by FIFA going into this tournament, compared to Urugauy’s 7th. Brazil 2014 is the 12th World Cup Finals at which the UFWC title has been contested.

What made Costa Rica’s win all the more remarkable was that they were fielding a much depleted side. They had lost a trio of key players to injury ahead of the tournament in Bryan Oviedo, Rodney Wallace and Alvaro Saborio. Coach Jorge Luis Pinto placed his faith in Campbell up front, with captain Bryan Ruiz in the number 10 role, and the experienced Celso Borges of AIK supporting from midfield. Defenders Michael Umana and Junior Diaz both recovered from flu to play alongside Oscar Duarte of Club Brugge in defence. Levante’s highly-rated goalkeeper Keylor Navas was another key man for Los Ticos.

For Uruguay, Luis Suarez was named on the bench following his recent knee surgery, but apparently wasn’t deemed fit enough to play any part in the game. As expected, in Suarez’s absence coach Oscar Tabarez retained his favoured 442 formation, pairing Edinson Cavani with Diego Forlan up front. Walter Gargano and Egidio Arevalo played in central midfield, with Christian Stuani and Cristian Rodriguez wide. In defence, keeper Fernando Muslera was protected by a back four of Martin Caceres, Maxi Pereira, Diego Godin and captain Diego Lugano.

It was Uruguay who had most of the ball during a tight opening period, with temperatures in the Estadio Castelao reaching 33 degrees celsius. The first big chance came in the 16th minute when Forlan’s long free kick ricocheted to Cavani, who lashed a shot wide. But Cavani made amends less than five minutes later, converting a penalty after Lugano was fouled in the Costa Rica box.

But Costa Rica pushed for an equaliser, and Campbell, an Arsenal player who has never played for the North London club, looked lively, and he smashed a long-range shot just wide of the goal. Then a scramble in the Uruguay box saw the ball end up in the side netting.

Uruguay had one more chance just before half-time, when Forlan’s deflected shot ballooned into the air and had to be tipped over the crossbar by Navas.

Costa Rica had a great opportunity to equalise early in the second half, when Oscar Duarte’s header crashed against Muslera. But they continued to press, and their efforts paid off after 54 minutes, when Cristian Gamboa crossed for Campbell, who smashed his shot into the back of the net.

And just four minutes later, Duarte rose at the back post to head in a free-kick and give Costa Rica a 2-1 lead. Tabarez responded by withdrawing Forlan and pushing Stuani up front. But there was no sign of Suarez appearing from the bench.

And it was a Costa Rica substitute who sealed the game, Marco Urena latching onto a Cambell through-ball to score with his first touch. There was no way back for Uruguay. And, to cap a miserable night for the deposed champions, Pereira was sent off for hacking down Campbell in the 94th minute.

So Costa Rica are the new Unofficial Football World Champions. The next UFWC title match is on Friday, 20 June, when Costa Rica will play Italy at the Arena Pernambuco in Recife. Italy are among the top ten ranked UFWC nations, having won 27 title matches. The two nations have only met once before, in 1994, when Italy won 1-0.

The Costa Rica versus Italy match kicks off at 13:00 local time, 17:00 BST. Keep right up to date by following us on on Twitter or Facebook.

You can find out everything you need to know about the UFWC in our official handbook, Unofficial Football World Champions, which contains a complete history of the unofficial competition. The 2014 edition, updated for the World Cup, is out now.

New UFWC book

About Paul Brown

Paul is a freelance journalist and author. He created the UFWC in 2003, and subsequently wrote the Unofficial Football World Champions book. He can be found on Twitter @paulbrownUK.