Costa Rica overpower US in World Cup qualifier

SAN JOSE: American goalkeeper Tim Howard shouts as the ball bounces into his net
Costa Rica outclassed the United States 3-1 in their World Cup qualifier to go top of the final stage.

Striker Alvaro Saborio set the Ticos on their way on the Saprissa stadium''s frayed artificial pitch in the first minute with a 25-metre shot, which dipped over goalkeeper Tim Howard.

The hosts doubled their lead before the quarter-hour mark when a sweeping move down the left ended with Celso Borges side-footing the ball into an empty net.

The US, unbeaten in their opening three games in the group, never looked like finding a way back and nearly went further behind when Howard tipped away Saborio''s header.

With Costa Rica being roared on by a crowd of 20,000 Saborio had another chance before halftime but fired his snapshot over the bar.

Substitute Pablo Herrera buried the visitors in the 69th minute when he collected the ball nearly the touchline, twisted past his marker and beat Howard at his near post.

Howard saved the US from further humiliation late in the game when he turned away Walter Centeno''s well-struck free kick.