[www.inewsguyana.com] – The only hope Roy Hodgson’s Three Lions side had of progressing to the last 16 was for the Azzurri to beat Los Ticos at the Arena Pernambuco, but Bryan Ruiz’s header late in the first half proved decisive in the match and confirmed England’s elimination.
Costa Rica is through to the knockout stages for the first time since Italia 90, even before they meet England in Belo Horizonte on Tuesday, while Italy and Uruguay will fight it out in Natal to progress with them.
Cesare Prandelli made three changes to his starting line-up after the 2-1 win over England on Saturday. Captain Gianluigi Buffon returned from injury to replace Salvatore Sirigu in goal, while Thiago Motta replaced Marco Verratti in midfield, and right-back Ignazio Abate was picked ahead of Gabriel Paletta. Costa Rica were unchanged following their 3-1 win over Uruguay.
Celso Borges headed over Buffon’s crossbar from a corner as Costa Rica made the early running, while Thiago Motta shot wide before the half-hour mark at the other end.
Soon after, Mario Balotelli lifted a close-range chip over goalkeeper Keylor Navas after a wonderful pass from Andrea Pirlo but saw the ball bounce down off target.
Navas then had to save a fierce Balotelli volley, while Buffon had to be alert to push a Cristian Bolanos shot round the post.
All the drama came just before the break as Joel Campbell was denied what looked a clear penalty when shoved to the ground in the box by Giorgio Chiellini.
The Chilean referee Enrique Osses waved play on, however, and when Junior Diaz sent in an excellent cross from the left to the far post, Ruiz sent a firm header off the underside of the crossbar and saw the ball bounce over the line.
Prandelli threw on Antonio Cassano for Motta for the second half, and although Navas had to make a fingertip save to deny Matteo Darmian and beat away a Pirlo long-range free-kick, Costa Rica were relatively untroubled in the second half.