Costa Rica falls narrowly to Spain in friendly

Action from the international friendly between host Spain and Costa Rica (white jersey) on June 11, 2015, in Leon. (Photo courtesy of Federación Costarricense de Fútbol)

LEON, Spain – In a battle between the current European and Central American champions, Spain rallied to defeat visiting Costa Rica 2-1 in an international friendly on Thursday at the Estadio Reino de Leon.

 Costa Rica went ahead early through Johan Venegas, but the host responded with goals from Paco Alcacer and Cesc Fabregas inside the opening half hour.

 Venegas struck in the fifth minute, slotting home from 14-yards out after Joel Campbell ran onto a long ball and maneuvered into the left side of the 18-yard box, before finding the Alajuelense midfielder’s left foot.

 Spain equalized on a quick counter two minutes later, when Valencia forward Paco Alcacer beat Costa Rica’s offside trap and netted inside the right post from 16 yards.

 Chelsea midfielder Cesc Fabregas put Spain ahead for good, 2-1, in the 30th minute.  Barcelona’s Aleix Vidal played in a cross from the right that Celta midfielder Nolito tapped to Fabregas, who finished from the edge of the six-yard box.

 Spain had chances to extend its lead, but goalkeeper Keylor Navas – in brilliant fashion -- denied Real Madrid teammate Sergio Ramos twice and then Santi Cazorla.

The Ticos nearly leveled late only for Fulham forward Bryan Ruiz to put a half volley over the crossbar.

Costa Rica next meets Mexico in Orlando on June 27 for its last friendly ahead of July’s CONCACAF Gold Cup.