Photo: Costa Rica vs Italy
Surprising Costa Rica upset Italy 1-0 in Recife Friday to guarantee themselves a berth in the World Cup round of 16 for only the second time.
The Ticos now lead Group 6 with six points, while Italy and Uruguay each have three. England, with no points after two matches, will miss the knockout stage for the first time since 1958.
Italy, which has an edge on goal differential, can advance with a tie against Uruguay - Costa Rica’s first victim - next Tuesday.
Though the Italians were technically the home side, most of the 40,285 people sweltering in the 35 C (95 F) heat at Recife’s Arena Pernambuco were cheering for the upstart Central American side against the four-time World Cup winners.
Costa Rica largely dominated in the first half, using a layered defensive scheme to limit Italy’s main threat, Mario Balotelli, to one scoring chance.
Veteran Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon turned aside shots by Oscar Duarte and Christian Bolaños and the referee declined to give a penalty when Ticos striker Joel Campbell was brought down in the area in the 40th minute.
Costa Rica didn’t have long to wait for revenge.
Buffon mishandled a clearance, allowing Junior Diaz to serve up an excellent ball for captain Bryan Ruiz, who headed the eventual game-winner into the Italian net just before halftime.