Jonathan Martinez struck twice from the penalty spot and Costa Rica rallied for a 3-1 win over Belize on Tuesday in the opening match of Central American qualifying for the 2015 CONCACAF Under-17 Championship at the Estadio Edgardo Baltodano Briceño.
The Ticos sit first in Triangular I and will be idle until Saturday, when they face El Salvador. On Thursday, Belize will need at least a draw against the Salvadorans in order to avoid elimination.
"We know how difficult these type of games can be," Costa Rica head coach Luis Fernando Fallas said after the match. "(Belize) is a team that also knows how to play, which is fast and that cost us, but we got the three points thankfully.”
Alvin Sifontes gave the visitors a 1-0 lead in just the second minute of play.
"I think the players did not understand the message that we were giving them for ten months,” expressed Fallas, adding, “Then we get a surprise at the beginning.”
It took until the second half for Costa Rica to equalize and go ahead, as Martinez converted penalty kicks in the 64th and 72nd minutes.
Andy Reyes netted an insurance goal with two minutes left in normal time.
"We have been working on the mental side for some time,” Fallas noted. “We know that when faced with opponents like these that must have patience, which we were lacking, but that's part of the experience that they should be acquiring.
“We entered underestimating the rival. I say ‘we’ because I am part of the team. But to the guys this has to serve as experience for them.”
The first place team from each of the two Triangulars qualify automatically for the 2015 CONCACAF Under-17 Championship in Honduras. The second-place teams in each group will meet in a playoff for another spot. Triangular II will be contested at the Estadio Maracana in Panama City, November 26-20, 2014, between the host nation, Guatemala and Nicaragua. Source