SAN SALVADOR DE JUJUY, Argentina, July 7, 2011 (AFP) - A fiery encounter saw special guests Costa Rica get back into contention on Thursday for a place in the Copa America quarter-finals with a 2-0 victory over nine-man Bolivia.
Bolivia's ability to snatch a point from hosts Argentina in their opener had thrown Group A wide open and with Colombia also drawing with the Argentinians they had gone top of the group with four points Wednesday.
|AFP - Bolivian defender Ronald Rivero (L) stops the ball with his arm during a 2011 Copa America Group A match against Costa Rica on July 7, 2011. Costa Rica won 2-0|
But Josue Martinez and Joel Campbell's goals midway through the second half brought the Ticos back into the equation after they had started off with a 1-0 loss to the Colombians.
It could have been an even more clear cut victory but Bolivian keeper Carlos Arias saved a 71st-minute spotkick from Allen Guevara.
Campbell, only 18, said he was delighted with the team's overall performance, which he capped with a rasping drive after also being involved in the move which led to Martinez's opener on the rebound.
"We could have had three, four, even five goals," he said.
The fleet-footed Central Americans posed their Andean rivals problems throughout and the Bolivians resorted to some meaty challenges which earned them a string of yellow cards before they finished with nine men after red cards were flashed at Ronald Rivero at Walter Flores in quick succession.
Rivero went for a handball which led to the penalty and Flores followed with a straight red for an over the top challenge.
The Costa Ricans will now hope to snatch a point off the struggling Argentinians in their final game as they bid to get a result that would likely secure a quarter-final berth.
With luck their three points could yet be enough to land them a place as one of the two best third-placed teams at the event.
Bolivia, whose sole title came more than 40 years ago on home soil, must for their part go all out to beat their Colombians in their final game.
With the match played in the northern city of Jujuy, the encounter was almost a home match for the Bolivians -- but they had no answer to the Costa Ricans' smart attacking play.
"This goes a long way to making up for losing by a goal to Colombia in the same stadium," insisted Campbell.
Bolivia striker Marcelo Moreno Martins meanwhile urged his teammates to bounce back against Colombia.
"We have to go into that one with our heads held high and we know we can still qualify," Martins insisted.