Costa Rica headed into their first ever World Cup as champions of the CONCACAF region for the third time. For much of their history, Costa Rica had suffered from FIFA restrictions on how many sides from their region could qualify.
In the sixties they had a particularly strong squad but lost out to Mexico in qualifying on three occasions when just one place was up for grabs.
They qualified for the 1990 World Cup in Italy by winning the tenth and last edition of the CONCACAF Championship, which at the time served as qualification to the World Cup as well.
Scotland were to be their opposition in the first match of Italia ’90. The Tartan Army were playing in their fifth consecutive World Cup and their seventh in total.
Scotland had become famous at the World Cup for not being able to get past the first round. Yet when they were drawn with 1000/1 outsiders Costa Rica and a mediocre Sweden they were very confident they would be able to get through, despite the presence of Brazil in the group too.
Just after half-time Costa Rica shock the Tartan Army with a beautifully crafted goal…
What Happened Next?
The goal from Juan Cayasso was enough to give them victory. Costa Rica remarkably beat Sweden too, which meant they advanced to the second round.
They narrowly lost to Brazil but second place in the group was enough to set up a tie with Czechoslovakia.
They fell behind in the first half, but just after half-time Los Ticos pulled it back level and it looked like another shock was on the cards.
However, in the final half an hour of the match they fell apart and ended up losing 4-1. Nevertheless, they headed back to Central America as heroes.
This would prove to be their best World Cup performance until Brazil 2014 where they reached the quarter-finals and were a penalty shoot-out away from the semis.