In a case of David vs. Goliath, the Costa Rica football team took on Italy — four times World Cup champions — and played at their level. The Central Americans proved that they were more than just a flash in the pan after their surprising opener, where they hammered Uruguay 3-1 and now move on to the next phase in first place in Group D.
Costa Rica impressed against Uruguay and after starting rather tentatively, they got back into their groove attacking Italy relentlessly. The Europeans looked a little desperate as they tried to score the equalizer before the half.
Super Mario — Mario Balotelli — missed the clearest opportunity the Azzurri had, when, with an open net, he failed to score. The Costa Rica football team went to the locker room with the knowledge that they were only 45 minutes away from qualifying for the next round.
Group D is one of the toughest in all of the World Cup, with three former champions (Italy, Uruguay, and England) and one underdog, at least on paper, Costa Rica. After their opener, nobody is taking them lightly and that was the case during the match against Italy.
Italy caught a break, when Chilean referee did not see or call a clear penalty against Joel Cambpell as he was threatening Buffon’s net. The missed call was confirmed with later replays.
However, Costa Rica didn’t give up and got their revenge for the missed penalty call at the 44th minute. Bryan Ruiz scored a beautiful header past Buffon to put Costa Rica up 1-0.
— Purely Football (@PurelyFootball) June 20, 2014
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) June 20, 2014
Costa Rica effectively neutralized Italian superstar Mario Balotelli, who was notably absent. The South Americans continued the successful campaign of Latin American countries during the World Cup 2014 and join Chile and Colombia as the third Spanish speaking country to move forward.
The match saw the return of Italy’s legendary goalkepper, Gianluigi Buffon, who was forced to sit out his team’s opener due to injury. Buffon is the team captain and with 140 caps for Italy, is a true hero in his country.
The public was clearly with the Costa Rica football team and every time they touched the football, the familiar “Ole” chant was heard. Italian coach Enzo Bearzot was visibly concerned on the sidelines.
Italy looked tired and desperate in the second half, confirming the thought that the hot, humid weather would play a role against the Azzurri. The Costa Rica football team was more comfortable and continued to press late in the match and won two consecutive World Cup games for the first time ever. With this result, England is eliminated from the tournament.
[Image via Twitter]