If Guillermo Ochoa shocked the world on Tuesday against Brazil, Costa Rica stopped it on its axis with a 1-0 victory over four time FIFA World Cup champion Italy at the Arena Pernambuco in Recife, Brazil. The Ticos were considered without any chance of advancement at the Brazil 2014 world cup draw in December 2013 when they drew Uruguay, Italy and England, all former world champions.
In six games so far, the CONCACAF region has demonstrated a vast improvement in their play winning four games, drawing one, and only losing one. Honduras and the U.S.A. have yet to play their second game.
Like their previous game, the Costa Ricans were in their element and in full concentration showing no fear against another of football’s historic teams. The fans were out in numbers supporting their squad and enjoying their country’s motto, “Pura vida!”
The Italians arrived as the heavy favorites and they did not falter in the first half with shots from Mario Balotelli. But goalkeeper Keylor Navas was quick to react and prevent the AC Milan striker from putting the Azzurri on the board.
In the 44th minute the Central American nation joined in a great cheer as Junior Diaz sent a cross pass to Bryan Ruiz who connected with his head and found the top near corner of goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon’s net for the 1-0. Costa Rica had rung the bell for the second time in Brazil, and against one of the best in the world.
The Italians attempted to move forward, but were stopped by the Costa Rican defense that was not allowing anything through. For an additional 46 minutes the Ticos held their ground against the Italian attack.
With the Italians constantly on attack, they left a space open for Costa Rica in the finals minutes. The Ticos took the ball to the area, but missed the top far corner. The attack continued from the Azzurri, but time ran out.
The victory puts Costa Rica in control of Group D and mathematically eliminates England from the competition. The loss puts the Italians against the wall since they face Uruguay in their third game. Italy has the same amount of points as the Charruas and leads on goal differential. Costa Rica has surprised the world with their two victories so far.
“We never lost our head, we made a beautiful game,” Costa Rican Coach Jorge Luis Pinto said at the conclusion of the game.