Clear cut chances in a first half often devoid of any tempo were hard to come by. Hopes initially were high that this match might turn out differently when Adam Simon had an effort smothered at the near post for Hungary with just two minutes on the clock.
As the first half wore on, the play became increasingly stagnant. Although both sides tried to lift the tempo, they found the final ball difficult to play with any quality.
Indeed, the only other noteworthy chance of the first 45 minutes came from a long range effort for Costa Rica, which whistled over the top of the Hungarian goal.
The second half was a noticeably different affair. Both sides decided to cast off the shackles of disillusionment and get on with the match, with Hungary, especially, a different team. The breathless tempo of the remainder of the game was set on 47 minutes, when Diego Estrada let fly with a dipping effort that wasn’t far from its intended target. Hungary also announced their more attacking mindset when forward Andras Simon responded with a pile-driver for the Europeans, forcing Alverada in the Costa Rican goal to pat the effort down. The Saprissa goalkeeper, after being largely redundant in the first half, was pressed into action on several occasions in quick succession, as Hungary, inspired by that first effort, carried on attacking. A half-cleared corner which bounced off Jose Varela was volleyed goal wards by substitute Roland Varga, obliging Alverada into a sprawling save at full stretch on 54 minutes. The chances began to really mount up for the European side as the final quarter of the match came round. A free kick was drifted onto the head of defender Szabo, but the Paks player placed his attempt wide of the target as the ball slid off the side of his head. Liverpool forward and Hungary’s top scorer for the tournament, Krisztian Nemeth, had started the game on the bench but had been given his chance as a result of an early injury. A straight ball down the middle was volleyed by him towards the Costa Rican goal, but once again Alverado was on top form to deny Hungary their opener. Moments later and Nemeth, possibly dwelling on his earlier missed chance, sent a weak effort into the side netting. With just over ten minutes to go, Hungary thought they had the lead when Simon smashed a shot squarely against the frame of the goal from a corner after Alverado had pulled off arguably the save off the match, tipping a 20-yard effort over the goal. But just as it looked as if Hungary were certain to score, Costa Rica surprised their opponents with a goal of their own. Chances for Los Ticos had been sparse, with Hungary restricting them to long range efforts, even in the more open second half, but with 87 minutes played, forward Marcos Urena snatched the opener. A darting run at the heart of the Hungarian defence saw the Magyars prised open, and a low shot beat Gulasci to make it 1-0. Costa Rica should have doubled their lead moments later when captain and defender Jose Mena squandered a great chance to settle the game from a free kick, planting his header wide of goal. It was to prove a decisive moment, both for Mena personally and his country.
Hungary broke forward, and with Mena struggling to get back to cover the break, the ball was cheaply given back and played immediately forward to the raiding Nemeth, forcing the back-tracking defender to drag back the forward in the penalty area, conceding not only a spot kick but seeing his second yellow card of the game in the process. Vladimir Koman stepped up to take the shot, converting comfortably to tie the game. Clearly devastated by the late loss, Costa Rica looked a beaten side and it told in their approach in the shoot-out; all four efforts failing, and only two even forcing Gulasci in the Hungary goal to save. Hungary immediately seized the advantage and never looked back, despite Koman missing the second kick. Costa Rica totally lost their nerve, and the shoot-out was settled 2-0 after just four rounds. Hungary claim third place, a fine result after not being well fancied pre-tournament. They finished as the best-placed European side. Costa Rica’s fourth place is the best ever placement of a side from the North American region, so despite their failure to convert from spot, it has still been an excellent tournament for them.