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Costa Rica shock Italy, knock England out

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Recife (Brazil), June 20 :

Little known Costa Rica advanced to the last 16, knocking England out, after a memorable 1-0 win over four-time champions Italy in a FIFA World Cup Group D clash at the Arena Pernambuco here Friday.

Bryan Ruiz scored the only goal of the match with a clinical header from close range in the 44th minute.

FIFA-WORLD-CUP-2014The former Fulham attacker’s goal put England, who lost their opening two matches, out of the tournament.

Italy and Uruguay take on each other in Natal Tuesday and the winner of the match will decide who joins Costa Rica in the knockout stage.

Costa Rica, who didn’t even win a single match in their previous participation in the World Cup, recorded their second successive win over a nation in the top 10.

They beat 2010 semifinalists Uruguay in their opening match for the first upset in the tournament.

Costa Rica were dogged in defence and put pressure on every single Italian attacker.

Italy, meanwhile, lacked the cutting edge and created very few chances of note.

In a tight first half, Costa Rica found it hard to create space rarely that they had in their 1-0 opening win over Uruguay.

The Italian defence was well organised but for a sloppy last five minutes.

The pace, though, picked up in the last 15 minutes of the half.

Italy themselves found it hard to make clear-cut chances initially.

Veteran playmaker Andrea Pirlo was in the middle of everything good for the Italian attack, while Mario Balotelli had two guilt-edge chances to put the Italians in front but on both occasions he was not upto the task.

The talking point came minutes before the changeover as the very impressive Arsenal forward Joel Campbell had the opposition defence on the ropes and his twisty run saw Chiellini clearly foul him in the box but the referee waved play on much to the discontent of the Costa Rican coach.

Captain Bryan Ruiz, however, set the record straight as his header from a yard out hit the underside of the crossbar and bounced in.

Goal-line technology came into play and deemed the ball had crossed the line.

The second half saw Italian coach Cesare Prandelli ring in attacking changes.

Italy held most of the possession as Costa Rica put men behind the ball and tried to hit on the counter.

Italy threw men forward but poor passing in the final third and a solid Costa Rican defence saw them being repelled everytime.

Star forward Balotelli also failed to do anything magical and was crowded out each time he touched the ball.

Costa Rica did very little in attack with Gianluigi Buffon in the Italian goal having to do very little.

Italy themselves barely troubled the opposition keeper as they failed to find a way past the crowded defence.

(IANS)