Soccer-Centeno strike lifts Costa Rica

MIAMI, June 11 Tue Jun 12, 2007 2:25am BST

MIAMI, June 11 (Reuters) - Walter Centeno's first-half free kick lifted Costa Rica off the bottom of CONCACAF Gold Cup Group A with a 1-0 win over Guadeloupe on Monday.

The 30-metre strike in the 14th minute was the only goal of an ill-tempered game at the Orange Bowl.

Costa Rica moved joint top of the group standings, level on four points with Guadeloupe.

Canada (three points) and Haiti (two) were due to meet in the day's second match. The top two teams in each of the three groups advance to the quarter-finals, along with the two best third-place sides.

Eleven minutes after Centeno's goal, Guadeloupe nearly equalised when Costa Rica goalkeeper Jose Francisco Porras was forced to save a point-blank shot by defender David Sommeil.

Costa Rica's Alvaro Saborio had a penalty shout waved away shortly after halftime. In the 80th minute, Guadeloupe keeper Franck Grandel parried a long-distance shot from Rolando Fonseca.

The contest was littered with fouls and featured seven yellow cards, five to Costa Rica players.

The CONCACAF Gold Cup, being staged in six U.S. cities, will determine the champion of the region, which includes North America, Central America and the Caribbean. The winners earn an automatic berth in the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup.

(Reporting by Dan Shalin in Chicago)

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