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Keylor Navas was key in Costa Rica’s win over Japan

The veteran goalkeeper kept the clean sheet and made two key saves to help Los Ticos defeat Japan in the second game of Group E.

DOHA, QATAR - NOVEMBER 27: Keylor Navas of Costa Rica controls the ball during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group E match between Japan and Costa Rica at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium on November 27, 2022 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by Marvin Ibo Guengoer - GES Sportfoto/Getty Images)
Marvin Ibo Guengoer - GES SportfotoGetty

Keylor Navas arrived at the 2022 FIFA World Cup without seeing any minutes for club or country in the past four months. The 35-year-old couldn’t help Costa Rica in the group stage opener against Spain in the 7-0 defeat, but turned the page quickly for the second match.

Navas was key once again

Costa Rica desperately needed a win against Japan on Sunday to keep their hopes alive to advance to the knockout stages. Keylor Navas was once again the most important player tasked with keeping this dream alive. Japan started the second half by putting pressure on Los Ticos and had two chances to score, but with another vintage performance from Keylor Navas Costa Rica kept the clean sheet.

This was the confidence booster that Los Ticos needed after a disastrous performance against Spain, and in the 81st minute, Keysher Fuller scored the game-winning goal against Japan. This secured the three points for Costa Rica, now sitting in third place in Group E with one game remaining against Germany on 1 December.

This was the second time that Keylor Navas kept was able to keep his team alive in three participations at a World Cup. The first time came during the 2014 campaign when Costa Rica and England tied 0-0 during the group stage. In that World Cup, Los Ticos had a historic performance led by Navas, and they advanced to the quarter-finals.