A team without superstars? Well doesn’t matter at all as ‘˜rising stars’ Costa Rica followed up their surprise win over Uruguay with another World Cup stunner on Friday.
A team without superstars? Well doesn’t matter at all as ‘rising stars’ Costa Rica followed up their surprise win over Uruguay with another World Cup stunner on Friday, beating four-time champions Italy 1-0 to secure a spot in the next round and eliminate the ‘Three Lions’ in the process.
Fulham forward and Costa Rica captain Bryan Ruiz gave his side the lead in the 44th minute, heading in to the goal following a cross from fellow teammate Junior Diaz. Prior to the goal from Ruiz, Costa Rica were denied a penalty appeal when striker Joel Campbell was bundled over by Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini.
Thus as it stands, Costa Rica leads Group D with six points, while Italy and Uruguay have three each before Tuesday’s showdown. England has zero points after losing to Italy and Uruguay.
After entering the tournament as ‘underdogs’ in a group featuring three former world champions, who would have expected Costa Rica to top the ‘Group of Death’. Their only other appearance in the knockout phase came in its World Cup debut in 1990, when it beat Sweden and Scotland under experienced coach Bora Milutinovic before ultimately getting eliminated by Czechoslovakia.
For Italy, it marked the fourth consecutive World Cup in which it failed to win its second match. Even with the rising mercury, the Azzurri still struggled to keep up with the speedy Costa Ricans for long stretches.
Costa Rica coach Jorge Luis Pinto lined up five defenders but his squad was able advance forward with one swift, sweeping movement – just like in the 3-1 win over Uruguay. The Azzurri hardly threatened until Mario Balotelli had chances in the first half.
Italy coach Cesare Prandelli attempted to go on the attack by introducing the likes of Antonio Cassano, Lorenzo Insigne and Alessio Cerci in the second half, providing the Azzurri with four forwards instead of just Balotelli, but the 2006 winners rarely came close to equalizing.