2014 FIFA World Cup: Costa Rica takes down Italy, 1-0
FIFA World Cup 2014: Costa Rica vs. Italy preview, live commentary and recap.
If there were any questions regarding the class of the Costa Rica side, they were put to rest Friday.
After taking down Uruguay in their first match, the Costa Ricans dispatched of Italy 1-0 Friday to ensure a spot in the knockout stage.
Costa Rica again looked dominant, just as they did against a Uruguay squad devoid of Luis Suarez. Bryan Ruiz headed home a goal late in the first half to complete the scoring for both sides.
Italy seemed to be trending towards a goal for most of the first half, though they could never generate quite enough to get a really solid chance. Costa Rica dominated the second half, though, frustrating Italy with offsides traps and a stalwart defense.
With the win, Costa Rica locks up a spot in the Round of 16 for the first time since 1990. England has been officially eliminated, while Uruguay and Italy will face off next week to see who moves on.
Italy will move on with a win or a draw due to goal differential.
FINAL: Costa Rica 1 (Ruiz 45') - Italy 0
92' -- Great try late from Costa Rica. Italy down to its final minutes.
87' -- Italy. Offsides. Again.
82' -- Lorenzo Insigne finds a bit of a seam in the Costa Rica defense but whacks a shot well over the crossbar. Chances coming less and less often for the Italians as time winds down.
74' -- Italy offsides again. They've been whistled for offsides 8 trillion times, unofficially.
69' -- A frustrated Balotelli chucks a Costa Rica defender to the turf and earns a yellow card. Italy seems, for lack of a better term, annoyed that they're unable to generate much of an attack.
62' -- Pretty boring stretch. Both sides have tried a few weak shots. Nothing significant.
53' -- Pirlo tests Navas on a free kick, but, of course, blocked.
51' -- Navas just gets a fingerprint on a Matteo Darmian screamer. Italy is finding it hard to get decent looks, and Navas is turning them away when they do.
49' -- Italy forcing the issue early but struggling to maintain control of the ball -- which is important. Costa Rica counters and earns a corner.
Halftime: Pretty even half until the last five minutes or so when Costa Rica put together a pretty aggressive attack that led to a goal.
Looks like some tempers flared on the way to the locker room. Can't really tell what happened, but people seemed angry.
45' -- Ball never lies, folks. Wonderful cross headed home by Bryan Ruiz. The ball just gets across the goal line. All of England sweats.
43' -- Wow. Joel Campbell looks to have been taken down in the box but no whistle. Costa Rica is not pleased -- rightfully so.
42' -- Costa Rica turning the tables and applying some pressure. Pretty even match thus far.
37' -- Solid chance for Ignazio Abate, but a nice save from Buffon keeps it wide. Costa Rica's best chance so far.
33' -- Another amazing strike from Balotelli at the top of the box, but Keylor Navas makes a great save on the volley.
31' -- Somehow, somehow Balotelli's lob goes just wide. Great long ball from Pirlo to start the attack.
27' -- Great chance butThiago Motta shoots just wide from the top of the box. Probably the best opportunity of the game so far. It has been, um, been kinda boring.
22' -- Balotelli finally sniffs a chance but can't unleash a shot. Both sides struggling to get a look at goal.
20' -- Oh man. Chellini takes one right in the kisser on a Costa Rica cross.
16' -- Marchisio drops one back to Buffon, except not really. Out for a corner.
14' -- Italy dominating the ball, but they're unable to get any real chances. They're looking for Balotelli.
7' -- Chance for Costa Rica off the corner, but Celso Borges' header doesn't find the net. Just over the crossbar.
5' -- BALLOON ON THE FIELD
1' -- We're underway and a quick offsides for Italy.
11:55 a.m. ET: Also, a Costa Rica win eliminates England. Mario Balotelli knows this.
If we beat Costa Rica i want a kiss,obviously on the cheek, from the UK Queen.— Mario Balotelli (@FinallyMario) June 19, 2014
11:40 a.m. ET: Easy enough for Costa Rica: win and you're through. Italy, too, is in a good spot to get through after a win over England in its opener.
Good news for Italy, though, as Gianluigi Buffon will return to the net. Here are the full lineups.
Italy: Gianluigi Buffon, Ignazio Abate, Andrea Barzagli, Giorgio Chiellini, Matteo Darmian, Daniele De Rossi, Antonio Candreva, Thiago Motta, Andrea Pirlo, Claudio Marchisio, Mario Balotelli.
Costa Rica: Keylor Navas, Giancarlo Gonzalez, Michael Umana, Celso Borges, Oscar Duarte, Christian Bolanos, Joel Campbell, Bryan Ruiz, Junior Diaz, Cristian Gamboa, Yeltsin Tejeda.
Costa Rica vs. Italy (Group D) | Kickoff: 6/20, 12 p.m. ET | Stadium: Pernambuco, Recife
Match Preview: Costa Rica made quite a statement in its opening match, downing Uruguay 3-1 to the surprise of, well, everyone. Italy, too, looked strong in its opener against England, a 2-1 victory.
On Friday the two sides will square off to determine control of the group.
The Italian side obviously boasts superior talent, with Mario Balotelli attacking and an experienced midfield at his back. There are question marks however -- including the health of goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon -- that could come into play Friday. Buffon sat the opening match and his status for Friday is still unknown.
But as they showed against Uruguay, Costa Rica is not to be overlooked. Forward Joel Campbell was exceedingly impressive in the opener, as was keeper Keylor Navas, who made one of the best saves of the tournament on Uruguay's Diego Forlan.
It should be a battle, and it will be interesting to see if Costa Rica maintains its high level play. Oh, also, a draw would eliminate England from the knockout stage. So certainly a lot to watch for.
David Sumpter shares his top log shots to target for the World Cup
We were mere centimeters from losing one of soccer's brightest stars
Former Minister of Sport and Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko is stepping down
The city of Samara's stadium, set to be used for the 2018 World Cup, has seen its construction...
Norway beat World Cup debutants Thailand 4-0 before a historic rout by Germany over Ivory Coast...
He'll be suspended for Friday's game against Iowa.