Second chances are nice. Third chances, even better. Costa Rican defender Oscar Duarte got that during his team's 3-1 upset of Uruguay in a World Cup Group D opener on Saturday.
Duarte needed a shot at atonement. He had accosted Diego Lugano of Uruguay in the box with a first-half tackle straight out of an NFL Sunday. Duarte bore responsibility for his team's one-goal deficit following the dead-on penalty kick.
Later, allowed to leave his post and press forward on offense, Duarte had watched his close-in header boomerang back to him after the keeper's save. The goal mouth was wide open, begging to be filled. Alas, he sliced the rebound wide, the equivalent of a missed layup.
A teammate's subsequent goal had removed some of Duarte's burden when he again joined the attack. On nearly the exact patch of ground from where he twice missed, Duarte positioned himself to receive a free kick, got his forehead on the ball and thumped it into the net.
A defender's goal celebration is usually subdued, and Duarte's was low-key. (This, in contrast to Joel Campbell, who notched Costa's first goal, then sucked his thumb and stuck the ball at belly level beneath his shirt. The soccer world eagerly awaits an interpretation.) Maybe for Duarte, relief took precedence over ecstasy.
Uruguay, a prohibitive favorite, soon unraveled, yielding another goal in the defeat while drawing the tournament's first red card on a nasty and unnecessary tackle by Maxi Pereira.
To advance out of Group D, the Uruguayans must finagle at least four points (a win and a tie) out of matches against England and Italy. They too will get a second and third chance. Oscar Duarte would tell them to make the most of their opportunity.