World Cup: Costa Rica stun Italy 1-0
Published on Jun 21, 2014 4:21 AM
A match which few would have predicted before the World Cup to be pivotal produced another stunning upset, as Costa Rica followed their 3-1 win over Uruguay with a thoroughly-deserved 1-0 win over four-time champions Italy.
Because of earlier matches, the result also meant that popular England are knocked out of the World Cup, unable to advance from the group stage for the first time.
Costa Rica, however, upset all form books by being the first side from the "Group of Death" Group D to qualify for the last 16.
- The match started off with both sides taking it easy in the sweltering sun, but sparked to life just before half-time. First, Costa Rica striker Joel Campbell burst free of his markers and bore down towards goal, but was bundled to the ground in the penalty area by Giorgio Chiellini. Surprisingly, referee did not blow for penalty, much to the disgust of the Costa Rica bench.
- However, barely a minute later, Costa Rica took the lead, when Bryan Ruiz latched on to a cross from the left to head in off the crossbar. A shock lead for the underdogs.
- Although many were fancying Italy to exert their class on their opponents and grab at least an equaliser, the Azzurri were surprisingly off-colour, bereft of ideas and intensity. Costa Rica thus snatched a surprise win, and their players could hardly believe it at the final whistle.
- As usual, Italy relied heavily on Andrea Pirlo to unlock the Costa Rica defence. The Juventus midfielder produced several wondrous passes, and was given quite a lot of freedom by Costa Rica to exude his influence.
- Yet he was ineffectual for large parts of the game. Why? Because the Costa Ricans swarmed the other Italian midfielders constantly, forcing errors from them and then breaking quickly. Without his team-mates supporting him capably, Pirlo seemed isolated deep in midfield, unable to force the issue in the second half.
Man of the Match
- Bryan Ruiz was a livewire in the Costa Rican attack, constantly on the move to be available for his team-mates, linking up well with them to launch dangerous raids on the Italian defence.
- His goal was well-deserved, as he race to elude the attention of his Italian marker, and was just able to stretch himself to reach the ball and head home from a narrow angle.
What the result means
This is a momentous day of celebration for Costa Rica. Before the World Cup, everyone thought they would not survive the Group of Death. They rubbished those predictions by being the first Group D team to advance to the last-16. And they thoroughly deserved it, looking compact in defence and vibrant in attack in their two wins over Uruguay and Italy.
Italy, however, would need to improve quickly, otherwise they will find it tough to beat Uruguay for that other last-16 spot available in Group D. The result also means that England, with two losses, are out of the World Cup.