Costa Rica players celebrate a goal during a Group C match of the Concacaf Women's Gold Cup. Image Credit: AFP

Houston: Costa Rica reached the quarter-finals of the Concacaf women’s Gold Cup via a hastily arranged lottery on Wednesday after the final round of group game fixtures left them with an identical record to Puerto Rico.

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In a bizarre conclusion to the group stage of the 12-team tournament, Costa Rica advanced after CONCACAF officials drew lots in a draw at Houston’s Shell Energy Stadium.

Under tournament rules, the top two finishers in each of the three four-team first round groups advanced to this weekend’s quarter-finals in Los Angeles, with the two third-placed teams with the best records joining them.

Level on points

Argentina clinched one of the third-placed slots after finishing with four points behind Mexico and the United States in Group A.

But Costa Rica’s 3-0 defeat to Canada in Group C on Wednesday, combined with Paraguay’s 3-2 win over El Salvador, meant the Costa Ricans finished third in the group with an identical record to Puerto Rico in Group B.

The two teams were level on points, goal difference, goals scored, goals against and with the same number of yellow and red cards.

Costa rica
Canada forward Jordyn Huitema (left) attempts to control the ball as Costa Rica midfielder Raquel Rodriguez (11) defends. Image Credit: USA TODAY Sports

Past instances

The lottery draw was held immediately after Paraguay’s win, and Costa Rica were handed a quarter-final ticket after a plastic ball with their name on it was plucked from a bowl by CONCACAF officials.

Lots have been used very rarely in major international football competitions.

At the 1990 World Cup, Fifa officials held a lottery to separate the Republic of Ireland and the Netherlands, who both finished with identical records behind Group F winners England.

Ireland were eventually awarded second place, while the Dutch were ranked third in the group.

In 1968, a toss of a coin was used to decide the outcome of Italy’s European Football Championship semi-final against the Soviet Union in the era before penalty shoot-outs. Italy went on to win the title.