COSTA RICA 0-0 ENGLAND
TUESDAY 24TH JUNE – BELO HORIZONTE
It’s a tournament that started in a positive sort of way for England, as they impressed against Italy despite an opening game loss in Manaus, but since then they have failed to play with such promise as they drew 0-0 with already-qualified Costa Rica. As England crash out of the tournament, the Costa Ricans advance having played with endearment – everything that Hodgson’s ‘Three Lions’ failed to display at times.
England had every reason to feel rather nervy early on in the game in Belo Horizonte when Joel Campbell’s early strike took a deflection that could very well have seen the ball drop beyond Ben Foster in the England goal, but the ‘Three Lions’ eventually settled into the game a little more and crafted a few chances for themselves through Daniel Sturridge. The Liverpool striker came close with one curling effort from the edge of the box and repeatedly tried to catch Navas out, even having a penalty shout turned down when Duarte knocked him to the ground in the box. From that point, it seemed very much as though it wasn’t really going to be England’s day.
Perhaps a little bit complacent having already qualified, Costa Rica were not quite the side with the same positivity as their previous clashes against Italy and Uruguay, but the England side that featured several changes from previous games to provide some game-time for England’s lesser-experienced players could not take advantage of some of the chances that they crafted in the game. It was no different when the ball fell once again to the surprisingly wasteful Sturridge from a deflected shot, with Navas charging out to smother the ball and prevent the Liverpool striker from scoring. Sturridge’s frustrating afternoon did not improve when he put a good chance around the post after combining well with Jack Wilshere.
When the final whistle went, there was nothing to be celebrated from the game for either sets of fans. Despite some flashy skills to liven the game from the likes of Bryan Ruiz and Joel Campbell, the Costa Ricans will not have enjoyed the game so much with one eye on the next round, and England will be flying home from Brazil with a bitter taste in their mouths. The England team will not be the only ones with heavy hearts, however, as some England fans unveiled a sign that read ‘arriving after elimination = priceless’ after listing the prices of their trip. It’s become an all too familiar scenario for England, unfortunately…
The time for rebuilding came four years back in South Africa, and Roy Hodgson has done well to blood some young players this tournament, but ultimately, he could not drive his team through an albeit tricky group in Italy, Uruguay and Costa Rica and the experienced manager will now have to look to grow England’s young lions for the Euro 2016 qualifiers and tournament. Meanwhile, Costa Rica advance to the Round of 16 for the first time since 1990 as winners of the group, with the likes of Joel Campbell, Kaylor Navas and others winning the hearts of many as the ever-fighting underdogs down in Brazil.
COSTA RICA: Navas, Gonzalez, Borges (Barrantes 78), Duarte, Campbell (Urena 65), Ruiz, Brenes (Bolanos 59), Diaz, Gamboa, Tejeda, Miller.
BOOKINGS: González 60.
ENGLAND: Foster, Jones, Cahill, Smalling, Shaw, Lampard, Wilshere (Gerrard 73), Milner (Rooney 76), Barkley, Lallana (Sterling 62), Sturridge.
BOOKINGS: Barkley 53, Lallana 57.
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