CNN, June 21. Forget about trying to give England a hand. Italy must now worry about themselves after a 1-0 loss to outsider Costa Rica left the Azzurri in danger of being eliminated from the group stage for the second consecutive World Cup.
A goal from Bryan Ruiz in the first half gave Costa Rica the shock victory in Recife, officially sending England home a day after it lost 2-1 to Uruguay. Luis Suarez, who plays his football for Liverpool, tormented the Three Lions and Ruiz — a former Fulham forward — was the man who broke English and Italian hearts Friday.
he improbable victory moved Costa Rica into the second round for the first time since Italia ’90 — as well as add to the upsets in Brazil.
“We’re delighted with the win … but we don’t want to stop there,” Costa Rica manager Jorge Luis Pinto told reporters. “It’s only the start.
“It’s not easy to play against a team like Italy, given their history and the individual talents they have.
“We tried to contain their play by restricting (midfielder) Andrea Pirlo. But we were also solid in defense.”
Mario Balotelli joked that he’d want to kiss the Queen if he bailed out England but the ex Manchester City striker missed two good chances for Italy in the opening 45 minutes. England had to hope — at the least — that Italy would beat both Costa Rica and Uruguay to have any chance of going through from Group D.
After Costa Rica had a penalty appeal waved away when Joel Campbell appeared to be fouled by Italian hard-man Giorgio Chiellini, Costa Rica netted the lone goal when Ruiz converted a close-range header in the 44th minute past the fit again Gianluigi Buffon.
A toothless Italy appeared to wilt in the second half and barely threatened the Costa Rica goal, unable to break the offside trap, with Randall Brenes almost doubling Costa Rica’s advantage in injury time.
“It was a defeat where Costa Rica were much more aggressive and played with passion,” Italy manager Cesare Prandelli told RAI Sport in quotes carried by the Football Italia website.
Italy and Uruguay will now face off Tuesday for the right to join Costa Rica in the knockout stage. Italy needs a draw to advance by virtue of a better goal difference.
“We already knew this was a particularly tough group and that we’d have to gamble our qualification in the last game with Uruguay,” said Prandelli. “Are we afraid? No. We just need to recover our energy.”
England becomes the second high-profile European nation to exit the World Cup after defending champion Spain was ousted on Wednesday. Spain lost both its games, to the Netherlands and Chile.