Thousands of fans celebrate after Costa Rica clinch last World Cup 2022 spot - in pictures

Joel Campbell’s early goal hands New Zealand defeat in intercontinental play-off

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Thousands of supporters flooded the streets of San Jose after Costa Rica beat 10-man New Zealand 1-0 in their intercontinental play-off to secure the last spot for World Cup 2022 in Qatar.

Joel Campbell’s early goal sent Costa Rica to the World Cup for a third successive tournament.

“Today is a joyful day,” said Keylor Navas, the captain and goalkeeper whose saves late in the game preserved the lead earned by Campbell’s third-minute goal. “We played many finals to be here, we played many matches in which we knew we couldn’t make any mistakes. And today was another one of those.”

Former Arsenal striker Campbell scored after he squeezed between two defenders to touch home a pass from Jewison Bennette with the New Zealand defence slow to react.

But New Zealand will feel hard done by after having an equaliser chalked off by VAR for a foul in the build-up to Chris Wood putting the ball in the back of the net in the 39th minute.

A check found that Matthew Garbett had fouled Oscar Duarte in what looked a harsh decision.

A VAR check also led to a 69th-minute red card for Kosta Barbarouses, leaving the Kiwis down to 10 men.

"We had a chance to score early on and then we struggled," said Costa Rica coach Luis Fernando at the post-match press conference.

"We knew what their assets were. We knew we’d struggle with their aerial balls. We had to make a change at halftime to have greater possession of the ball and a line of five in defence. That proved key."

Costa Rica qualified for a sixth World Cup in total and will compete in Group E at the finals against Germany, Japan and Spain.

New Zealand, meanwhile, failed again in the final qualifying test. The latest defeat follows exits against Mexico for the 2014 tournament and Peru four years later.

Coach Danny Hay said his team shown phenomenal spirit in the challenging conditions.

“They brought a lot of mana to themselves and the game,” he said. "I thought we were by far the better team. One team dominated, there was only one team trying to put together good quality football."

Updated: September 28, 2022, 8:44 AM