Costa Rica 1-0 Italy
Costa Rica qualified for the last 16 of the 2014 World Cup after executing a stellar performance to perfection against four-times world champions Italy at the Arena Pernambuco, Recife.
The Central Americans who were the better team, scored once to seal their second group victory following last Saturday’s 3-1 win over Uruguay. Bryan Ruiz’s well directed header in the 44th minute, downed the Azzurri.
Defender Foothold Chiellini completely lost track of Ruiz before heading in off the crossbar. At this moment England were homeward bound unless Italy were to change dramatically in the second half. Unfortunately, England fans all over the world settled for a disappointment Italy having come out flat, clearly lacking imagination.
The Costa Ricans neutralized midfield veteran, Andres Pirlo with several challenges, allowing him no space and time to deliver his defence splitting passes. Pirlo had the ultimate opportunity to level the score with a delicately-hit free kick in the 53rd minute, but Costa Rican goalkeeper Navas was available to push the ball away to safety.
The crowds seemed to offer Costa Rica an extra push, as every other pass gathered overwhelming applause. Mario Balotelli was booked by referee Enrique Osses when the attacker pushed a defender to the ground. This was Italy’s best chance to equalize after Andrea Pirlo slotted a superb pass that Balotelli shot wide.
Italy’s Prandelli made changes in attack during the second half, bringing on Lorenzo Insigne, Alessio Cerci and Antonio Cassano but the side realised a marginal improvement.
The full time whistle meant Mario Balotelli would not be receiving a kiss from the Her Majesty the Queen of England, following reports that earlier stated his demand, if the Azzurri emerged victorious.
The Los Ticos (Costa Ricans) strode into the last 16 while England headed for the nearest airport for a flight back home. Italy now face Uruguay next Tuesday with the victor joining Costa Rica for the knockout round of 16.