New Zealand have fallen agonisingly short of qualification for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ after a 1-0 loss to Costa Rica in the Intercontinental Playoff at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Qatar.

Joel Campbell’s third minute goal proved the difference in a game New Zealand dominated for large periods despite having Kosta Barbarouses sent off mid-way through the second half.

New Zealand came into the game as underdogs against the world-ranked number 31 side and the challenge became even harder after just three minutes.

Costa Rica’s teen sensation Jewison Bennette raced down the left-wing to deliver a low cross into the box and Joel Campbell edged ahead of his markers to place a left-foot shot beyond Oli Sail to give Costa Rica an early lead.

Defending their one-goal advantage, the CONCACAF nation fell into a deep defensive pattern with New Zealand dominating possession and applying constant pressure to the Costa Rica goal.

As expected, record New Zealand goalscorer Chris Wood was the focal point. His aerial presence afforded chances for both Alex Greive and Matthew Garbett on the follow-up, both flashing half-volleys wide of the target.

Wood then had a chance himself, toe-poking a Joe Bell delivery goal-bound to force a double save from Costa Rica captain Keylor Navas before being at the heart of the action again as late drama rounded out the first 45 minutes.

The Newcastle United frontman first saw a penalty appeal turned away following an awkward challenge from Anthony Contreras before scoring what he thought was a crucial equaliser just moments later.  Wood capitalised on Yeltsin Tejeda’s poor clearance attempt to hammer home but match official Mohammed Abdulla Hassan Mohamed ruled the goal out with Garbett adjudged to have committed a foul in the build-up following a pitchside VAR review.

Costa Rica reacted at half-time with coach Luis Fernando Suarez making three changes at the break resulting in an immediate improvement from Los Ticos, with Contreras testing Sail on the hour mark.

Just shy of 70 minutes in New Zealand’s task went from improbable to near impossible as they were reduced to 10-men. Substitute Kosta Barbarouses lunged into a challenge on Francisco Calvo and, following another pitchside VAR review, was shown a red card just minutes after entering the fray.

The All Whites went chasing a shock result with Clayton Lewis forcing a good save from Navas and Wood firing a low drive straight at the Paris Saint-Germain stopper, but Danny Hay’s men could not find the crucial equaliser as Costa Rica saw out the win.

Costa Rica are now the 32nd and final team to qualify for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ and will join Spain, Germany and Japan in Group E.

New Zealand’s attention will now turn to qualification for the next World Cup with the All Whites and the other OFC Member Associations set to battle it out for a guaranteed spot at the FIFA World Cup 2026™ in Canada, Mexico and the United States.

Costa Rica 1 (Joel CAMPBELL 3′)

New Zealand 0 

Half-time: 1-0

Costa Rica: 1 Keylor NAVAS (GK) (C), 4 Keysher FULLER, 6 Oscar DUARTE, 15 Francisco CALVO, 8 Bryan OVIEDO, 17 Yeltsin TEJEDA, 5 Celso BORGES, 12 Joel CAMPBELL, 9 Jewison BENNETTE, 13 Gerson TORRES, 7 Anthony CONTRERAS. Substitutions: 18 Aarón CRUZ (GK), 23 Leonel MOREIRA (GK), 2 Carlos MORA, 3 Juan Pablo VARGAS, 10 Bryan RUIZ , 11 Johan VENEGAS, 14 Orlando GALO, 16 Ian LAWRENCE, 19 Kendall WASTON, 20 Daniel CHACON, 21 Brandon AGUILERA, 22 Carlos MARTINEZ. Coach: Luis Fernando SUAREZ.

New Zealand: 1 Oliver SAIL (GK), 6 Bill TUILOMA, 2 Winston REID (C), 4 Nando PIJNAKER, 20 Niko KIRWAN, 8 Joe BELL, 15 Clayton LEWIS, 13 Liberato CACACE, 19 Matthew GARBETT , 11 Alex GREIVE, 9 Chris WOOD. Substitutions: 23 Matthew GOULD (GK), 12 Stefan MARINOVIC (GK), 3 Francis DE VRIES, 5 Tommy SMITH, 7 Kosta BARBAROUSES, 10 Marko STAMENIC, 14 Elijah JUST, 16 Michael BOXALL, 17 Logan ROGERSON, 21 Tim PAYNE, 25 Joe CHAMPNESS, 26 Ben WAINE. Coach: Danny HAY.