Costa Rica continue to shock football on the World Cup stage, as the 28th ranked team defeated the 9th ranked Italians 1-0 on Friday.
As a result, Costa Rica now sit atop the group D standings with six points. Bryan Ruiz scored the goal minutes before half-time, heading the ball past Italian goalkeeper Gigi Buffon.
The goal came minutes after Costa Rica were denied a penalty, with Chiellini guilty of shoving Joel Campbell in the box - but amazingly the penalty wasn’t given.
Thankfully, justice prevailed and Costa Rica had a 1-0 lead heading into the break. The Italians did have their chances. Striker Mario Balotelli lobbed a shot over goalkeeper Navas, but the ball ended up on the wrong side of the post.
Andrea Pirlo tested Navas with several set pieces but couldn’t find the finish to give Italy the equaliser. In the end, Costa Rica have defied the odds, topped the group and show no signs of stopping.
They used their pace extremely well to dictate the play and launch incisive counter attacks. They played the offside trap perfectly and closed down Balotelli with relative ease.
Italy had the edge in possession at 58%-42%, but both teams had six shots on target and both keepers made four saves. Overall, this match was fairly evenly matched. The win also sees the early exit of England.
Roy Hodgson's side needed Italy to win and steal all the points in order to stay alive in the competition. Now all Costa Rica have to do is watch Italy and Uruguay battle it out for the last spot that would see them through to the knockout stages.
Based on Luis Suarez’s performance against England, Uruguay may have a slight edge. But with the legendary Buffon in goal, beating the Italians will be quite a challenge. The battle between these two sides will be quite entertaining on Tuesday.
These two wins by Costa Rica are considerable upsets. The pundits thought that Italy and England would be the teams progressing to the next round, but as with any major tournament, there are always upsets and pleasant surprises.
Suarez v Balotelli
Italy vs Uruguay is sure to be a classic. It’s Luis Suarez against Mario Balotelli. Both these players have quite a reputation for being hot-headed at times. And both these players are used to being the difference makers for their teams.
This match will be tough to call, but it will certainly be one of the most exciting matches of the group stage.
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