WORLD CUP: Fulham striker sends England home with Italy defeat





Fulham striker Bryan Ruiz scored the only goal of the game as Costa Rica defeated Italy with a 1-0 win that sends England home early from the World Cup. It is the first time the Central American country have ever won their first two games at the tournament, and they have now sealed their spot in the last 16.

Costa Rica, Italy, Group D, World Cup, Mario Balotelli, Bryan Ruiz, Fulham

In what was a sluggish first half from the Italians possibly due to the heat and humidity of Recife, they found themselves unable to find the net and deal with Costa Rica’s relentless pressure. Italty looked poor and goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, who in a great feat is now playing in his fifth World Cup, looked vulnerable to the whipping high balls that were sent into his six-yard box.

Their midfield general Andrea Pirlo was closed down immediately when he did get it thus making him starved of ball at times. After half an hour of play, Pirlo did spring into action with a delightful first-time chipped pass to put AC Milan’s Mario Balotelli clean through on goal. Goalkeeper Keylor Navas rushed out and Balotelli had a perfect opportunity to slot home past the keeper. As usual with Mario, he made the wrong decision, went for the lob but it was wretched, bouncing harmlessly wide.

Soon after, Balotelli had another chance and was free again after Thiago Motta flicked on another Pirlo pass. This time the shot had more venom in it but it was blasted straight at Navas. The Costa Ricans were playing a dangerous game with their high defensive line however, Italy could not capitalise and ran offside a massive 11 times in the game.

Costa Rica coach Jorge Pinto was irate a few moments later when the Italians were under pressure and when defender Giorgio Chiellini let a pass slide under his foot, the impressive Joel Campbell was free. Chiellini scampered back and bundled Campbell over and was fortunate that the Chilean referee Enrique Osses missed what looked a definite penalty.

A minute later, Pinto was in raptures as Bryan Ruiz headed home Junior Diaz’s accurate cross off the underside of the crossbar. The goal and the aftermath celebrations, led to players from both sides having a minor skirmish in the tunnel as they went in for the half-time break.

The opening moments of the second half saw the Italians pick their tempo pick up and surge forward. However, it was to no avail as no real chance was created. Matteo Darmian sent a rising shot that Navas tipped over and later, a Pirlo free-kick was also beaten away by the stopper.

Costa Rica loved the Italians predictable ball over the top and held on for the win.


ITALY: Buffon, Darmian, Barzagli, Chiellini, Abate, Thiago Motta (Cassano 46), De Rossi, Candreva (Insigne 57), Pirlo, Marchisio (Cerci 69), Balotelli.

GOALS: None.

BOOKINGS: Balotelli 69.

COSTA RICA: Navas, Gamboa, Umana, Duarte, Diaz, Gonzalez, Ruiz (Brenes 81), Borges, Tejeda (Cubero 68), Bolanos, Campbell (Urena 74).

GOALS: Ruiz 46.

BOOKINGS: Cubero 71.


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