Soccer-Costa Rica dreams come true against Greece


(Removes incorrect reference to Pinto receiving a red card in seventh para)

By Philip O'Connor

RECIFE, Brazil, June 29 (Reuters) - For Costa Rica defender Michael Umana it was a case of dreams come true as he stepped up to take the decisive spot-kick for his country in a World Cup last-16 penalty shootout with Greece on Sunday.

Umana calmly slotted the ball in the net to send Costa Rica into the World Cup quarter-finals for the first time, saying he believed it was his destiny.

"Last night, I dreamt this," he said in a post match interview. "It seems untrue. I was relaxed because I dreamed it.

"I dreamed it but I didn't tell anyone. I felt very confident."

Costa Rica coach Jorge Luis Pinto said he was also confident his team would win the penalty shootout even though his players had run themselves to the point of exhaustion.

Reduced to 10 men when defender Oscar Duarte was sent off for a second bookable offence after 66 minutes, Costa Rica gave up an equaliser in stoppage time then held on grimly in extra time to force a 1-1 draw.

"We had analysed everything, who would take the penalties, who would go first, second and third," said Pinto.

"We talked about this, that if we played for 120 minutes with one player less, we would take the penalties. It's the law of compensation."

Pinto also paid tribute to Costa Rica goalkeeper Keylor Navas who pulled off a series of stunning saves during the match then a one-handed stop to keep out Theofanis Gekas's fourth spot-kick in the shootout, which Costa Rica won 5-3.

"He's one of the best goalkeepers in the world. We continued with our ten men, and knew if we could not win we were happy to go to penalties," Pinto said.

"He is an extraordinary man, and he was recognised today for his abilities."

Costa Rica have emerged as one of the feel good stories of the World Cup, unexpectedly topping a group that included former champions Italy, Uruguay and England.

Despite their relatively small population of just under 5 million, the Central Americans have defied the odds to advance to the last eight and a showdown with the Netherlands.

And Pinto said the dream may not be over yet.

"To the people of Costa Rica, this is for you. This is a people that love football, this is to you. You will feel a lot of happiness," Pinto said.

"We will continue fighting, we will go on, we see beautiful things, but we want to develop and move on.

Costa Rica now face the Netherlands in a World Cup quarter-final in Salvador on Saturday.

"The Netherlands is a world class team, great players, brilliant players," Pinto said. (Editing by Nigel Hunt)

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