Soccer-Costa Ricans celebrate; mock "poor Uruguay"


By Gideon Long

FORTALEZA, Brazil, June 15 (Reuters) - Costa Ricans celebrated their World Cup victory over Uruguay as the greatest in their nation's soccer history and warned other teams at the tournament to take them seriously from now on.

"Great team, poor Uruguay", gloated the headline in La Nacion newspaper in a clear reference to a spat before the match, when Costa Ricans were angered by reports from Uruguay describing their country as Costa Pobre (Poor Coast) rather than Costa Rica (Rich Coast).

"Costa Rica record the greatest win in their history", the paper said.

"Historic!" ran the headline in the online version of tabloid newspaper Diario Extra next to photographs of jubilant fans celebrating on the streets of the capital San Jose.

In Brazil, thousands of red-shirted Costa Ricans, undeterred by rain, celebrated on the beachfront in Fortaleza, scene of Saturday's dramatic 3-1 victory over the former world champions.

"We knew we had a good team even if we haven't got the very best players in the world, but he never imagined this," said Rodrigo Matamoros, who planned to follow the team to Recife for their next match against Italy and then to Belo Horizonte for their final Group D clash against England.

Many of the fans lauded Joel Campbell, scorer of their opening goal and a threat throughout the match.

"He's one of those stars who shines alone," said fan Jose Bonilla. "He's young but he's already been good for some time. We've seen how he's performed in youth championships in recent years."

Costa Rica have only once progressed to the knock-out stages of a World Cup, in Italy in 1990 when they beat Scotland and Sweden before falling to Czechoslovakia in the second round.

On their last appearance, in Germany in 2006, they lost all three matches and shipped nine goals.

Saturday's victory was their first over Uruguay in 24 years of trying. They had lost six of their previous eight clashes and drawn two.

Given the importance of the tournament, this was clearly the biggest win in their history.

Costa Rica beat Brazil 3-0 in 1960 and Italy 1-0 in 1984, but the former was in a Panamerican tournament and the latter in an Olympic match - hardly the World Cup.

And the Central Americans were good value for their victory. They had almost as much of the ball as their opponents (48 percent to 52 percent), almost as many shots on goal (4 to 5) and won more corners (6 to 5).

"The England match is going to be difficult because they lost to Italy and will need all three points," Bonilla said as he sat on Fortaleza's beachfront. "But first, Italy. Hopefully we can get a draw which will allow both of us to go through." (Reporting By Gideon Long, Editing by Nigel Hunt)

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