Costa Rica's fairy-tale run at the 2014 FIFA World Cup will continue with a first-ever appearance in the quarter-finals after a 5-3 shoot-out triumph over knockout stage debutants Greece.
Levante UD goalkeeper Keylor Navas, who had been struggling with a knee injury in extra time, saved Fanis Gekas's spot kick after the first seven had been converted with aplomb. Michael Umana then stepped up to win it for a side that were reduced to ten men when Oscar Duarte was sent off in the 66th minute. Costa Rica now play the Netherlands on Saturday.
The Central American team were moments away from holding on for victory in regulation time until defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos – earning his 51st cap – drove in his first goal for Greece, cancelling out Bryan Ruiz's opener.
Off-target shots dotted the canvas of a quiet first 30 minutes as neither goalkeeper had cause to warm his palms, Christián Bolaños going closest with an effort over Orestis Karnezis's crossbar.
When one of them was finally pressed into service, Navas was hardly overextended by Greece captain Giorgos Karagounis's speculative attempt. He did, however, come to the Ticos' aid with eight minutes of the first period remaining, sticking out his right leg to deny Dimitris Salpingidis, who had met José Holebas's inviting delivery.
Costa Rica broke the deadlock after 52 minutes when Ruiz scored his second of the tournament, deftly passing Bolaños's cut-back into the bottom left-hand corner of the statuesque Karnezis's net.
Fernando Santos responded by introducing striker Kostas Mitroglou for midfielder Andreas Samaris and then brought on veteran forward Gekas. Inbetween times, Duarte saw red for bringing down Holebas, and Costa Rica's stubborn resistance was broken when Papastathopoulos, following up, equalised after Navas had parried Gekas's attempt on the turn.
Mitroglou then had a stinging strike tipped over as the 2004 European champions sought to avoid extra time, where the Fulham FC man was frustrated in the last minute by the sprawling Navas, whose efforts were fittingly rewarded in the shoot-out.