Costa Rica produced yet another inspirational performance shocking a fancied Italy 1-0 thereby booking a last 16 berth and also ensuring England's ouster from the World Cup here yesterday. It was a French masterclass on display as the Les Bleus outclassed Switzerland 5-2 in a group E clash to almost book a ticket for the pre-quarterfinals.
In the final match of the evening, Ecuador beat Honduras 2-1 to keep their qualification hopes alive. It was a 44th minute header by skipper and PSV Eindhoven striker Bryan Ruiz which confirmed a smooth passage for the Costa Ricans into the knock-out rounds from the 'Group of Death' after having stunned Uruguay in the first match. Having lost back to back group league matches, England thus became the second high-profile team after Spain to make an early exit from the championship. There are ominous signs for Uruguay and Italy as one of the two sides will also bid adieu from the preliminary stage after they lock horns in the final group league encounter.
While Azzurris need a draw to advance on a better goal difference, Uruguay can't settle for anything less than a victory.
In the 43rd minute, Costa Rica looked like being denied a penalty when their striker Joel Campbell latched on to a ball from middle-third and sprinted down inside the box before being felled by Giorgio Chiellini but referee Enrique Osses thouight otherwise.
But within a minute, the Costa Ricans got their lead as left wing back Junior Diaz kept a measured cross from the left as Bryan Ruiz evaded the duo of Chiellini and Matteo Darmian to head home. The ball hit the horizontal before crossing the goalline beating a full stretched Gianluigi Buffon. The first half could be divided into three distincts parts with first and last phase belonging to Costa Rica while Italy dominated for a duration during the middle phase. The first 15 minutes belonged to Costa Rica who pressed really hard with Cristian Bolanos' inswinging corner saw Celso Borges head wide off the target despite wrong anticipation on Buffon's part.
Bolanos, Gamboa and Campbell took control of the midfield during that phase as Mario Balotelli cut a lonely figure upfront. The next 20 minutes saw Italy get into the game as their midfield artist Andrea Pirlo got into the action providing a couple of assists for Balotelli.