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Second-half goal lifts Costa Rica past El Salvador

El Salvador is making a habit of coming up a just a bit short in CONCACAF World Cup qualifying. A single goal was all that kept the Cuscatlecos from claiming a vital road point in San Jose, Costa Rica.

Neither side could connect in the first half despite good chances falling either way. The visitors were unlucky to not have taken the lead on 22 minutes when Carlos Monteagu found space on a corner and beat the keeper, but not the post, with a headed effort.

In the 26th it seemed clear that Costa Rica would take the lead when Andy Furtado was fouled in the box, giving the home side a penalty. But Salvadorian 'keeper Miguel Montes guessed correctly and smothered Furtado's shot, keeping the game level into the break.

Costa Rica would finally find a breakthrough after 68 minutes when 34-year-old Saprissa star Walter Centeno knocked home the game's only goal when he connected on a cross and put it past Montes.

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Costa Rica held on for the final 22 minutes to claim a vital 1-0 victory. The three points put the Costa Ricans into sole possession of second place in the Hexagonal.

The latest in El Savador's run of close calls leaves La Azul sitting tied with Trinidad and Tobago at the bottom of the Hexagonal standings despite three good showings on the pitch.

The Ticos will get a chance to take over the group's top spot when they host the United States in June when CONCACAF qualifying resumes.

El Salvador's next opportunity to claim their first victory of the round will come against a Mexico squad that sits just one point ahead of them in fourth place. --