Henriette Jacobsen, TheCostaRicaNews.com

Many had expected an easy win for Argentina over Costa Rica’s national team, but the Messi-less South Americans failed to score any goals against the heroic fighting Costa Ricans.

The FIFA World Player of the Year, Lionel Messi, was left out of the starting lineup and never came on the field despite being declared fit for the match in Costa Rica just a few days ago. The injury to his leg was reported to have occurred just before the match. Argentina’s coach, Sergio Batista, also surprisingly left out Manchester City’s Carlos Tevez and Atletico Madrid’s Sergio Aguero of the Argentinean squad. Even without many of the star players, Argentina seized early control of possession at a packed New National Stadium, and José Ernesto Sosa tested Costa Rican goalkeeper Keylor Navas with a controlled lift in the eighth minute, but the deflection was cleared by the defense.

Hero of the night, Keylor Navas of Costa Rica, saves one of many balls.

35,000 soccer fans, including Costa Rica’s President Laura Chinchilla, saw a Costa Rican team that struggled to follow the fast-paced South American team, though they created more open chances than the South Americans. Costa Rica, who drew 2-2 at home with China on Saturday, rarely threatened the Argentinean goal the first 20 minutes until Christian Bolanos was launched on the left side, however the FC Copenhagen striker’s low shot was easily saved by goalkeeper Mariano Andujar. At 32 minutes, Bolanos found Alvaro Saborio in the Argentinean penalty area, but Saborio didn’t get enough control of the ball before it was cleared by Real Madrid defender Ezequiel Garay.

On the hour mark, Saborio was alone with Andujar, but once again the Costa Rican international lacked the sharpness he had in the last match against China. Five minutes later, Argentina defender Nicolas Otamendi’s fierce shot from just outside the penalty area was punched over the crossbar by the well-playing Costa Rican goalkeeper, Navas. None of the teams came that close to scoring after Otamendi’s big chance, resulting in another draw for Costa Rica. However, the Costa Rican players can be most satisfied with their performance and a clean sheet against one of the best attacking teams in the world.

Costa Rican coach, Ricardo La Volpe, summed up the match by saying that both teams played a great game, especially Costa Rica, although Costa Rica still needs to improve.