Costa Rica enjoyed a winning send-off ahead of the World Cup as they eased to a 3-0 triumph over Northern Ireland on home soil.
Despite the absence of the talismanic Bryan Ruiz, who was an unused substitute, Oscar Ramirez’s side impressed in a friendly fixture played out in the midday sun in San Jose.
Johan Venegas’ stooping header from inside the six-yard box gave the hosts – surprise quarter-finalists four years ago in Brazil – a deserved 30th-minute lead.
Arsenal’s Joel Campbell added a second straight after the interval, sending a low, left-footed shot through goalkeeper Trevor Carson, before his corner allowed substitute Francisco Calvo to head home in the 66th minute.
While Costa Rica – who will expect tougher tests against England and Belgium before the tournament – dazzled, Northern Ireland melted under pressure in the stiflingly hot conditions.
The heavy defeat on the road comes after a 0-0 draw with Panama, meaning Michael O’Neill’s squad return home from the short tour of Central America having failed to register a goal during the trip.
— Northern Ireland (@NorthernIreland) June 3, 2018
The visitors barely troubled Keylor Navas, back in action for the first time since winning the Champions League for a third straight year, during his 35 minutes on the pitch.
The Real Madrid goalkeeper was nearly caught out by an early lob from Liam Boyce that drifted wide before he was replaced by back-up Leonel Moreira.
Costa Rica opened the scoring not long after a drinks break had temporarily halted proceedings, Giancarlo Gonzalez’s front-post flick-on at a corner setting up Venegas to head home from close range.
Northern Ireland had been warned about the home side’s set-piece threat earlier in the half too, Carson fortunate to see Oscar Duarte nod over after failing to reach an in-swinging corner.
The Motherwell goalkeeper produced a smart save low to his right to deny Venegas a second before the break, only to allow Campbell’s effort to sneak under his body less than two minutes into the second half.
The forward – who spent the 2017-18 season on loan in LaLiga with Real Betis – then set up Calvo to round out the scoring, the half-time replacement easily losing his marker to convert from a corner.
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