Wednesday 29 July 2015

"The people of Costa Rica deserved this" - coach Jorge Luis Pinto

Published 20/06/2014 | 19:31

Costa Rica's head coach Jorge Luis Pinto, left, celebrates after winning 1-0 against Italy in the group D World Cup soccer match between Italy and Costa Rica at the Arena Pernambuco in Recife, Brazil, Friday, June 20, 2014.  (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
Costa Rica's head coach Jorge Luis Pinto, left, celebrates after winning 1-0 against Italy in the group D World Cup soccer match between Italy and Costa Rica at the Arena Pernambuco in Recife, Brazil, Friday, June 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
Costa Rica's coach Jorge Luis Pinto (L) celebrates with a teammate after winning their 2014 World Cup Group D soccer match against Italy at the Pernambuco arena in Recife June 20, 2014. REUTERS/Ruben Sprich (BRAZIL - Tags: SOCCER SPORT WORLD CUP)
A fan of Costa Rica celebrates at the end of their 2014 World Cup Group D soccer match against Italy
Costa Rica's team huddle as they celebrate after winning their 2014 World Cup Group D soccer match against Italy
Bryan Ruiz of Costa Rica celebrates scoring his team's opener
Bryan Ruiz of Costa Rica celebrates scoring his team's first goal
Head coach Cesare Prandelli of Italy looks on during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group D match between Italy and Costa Rica
Mario Balotelli of Italy looks on during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group D match between Italy and Costa Rica
Italian soccer team fans watch as their team plays against the Costa Rican team as they watch on the screen setup at the Word Cup FIFA Fan Fest during on Copacabana beach
Joel Campbell of Costa Rica falls after a challenge by Giorgio Chiellini (L) and Andrea Barzagli of Italy during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group D match between Italy and Costa Rica
Bryan Ruiz of Costa Rica celebrates scoring his team's first goal during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group D match between Italy and Costa Rica
Mario Balotelli of Italy reacts during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group D match between Italy and Costa Rica
Bryan Ruiz of Costa Rica scores his team's first goal on a header during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group D match between Italy and Costa Rica
Mario Balotelli of Italy holds the ball and gestures twoard Giancarlo Gonzalez and Michael Umana of Costa Rica during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group D match between Italy and Costa Rica
Costa Rica players celebrate after Bryan Ruiz scored their team's first goal during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group D match between Italy and Costa Rica
Joel Campbell of Costa Rica appeals for a penalty as Daniele De Rossi, Andrea Barzagli and Giorgio Chiellini of Italy react during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group D match between Italy and Costa Rica
Bryan Ruiz of Costa Rica scores his team's first goal on a header past Gianluigi Buffon of Italy during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group D match between Italy and Costa Rica
Joel Campbell of Costa Rica battles for the ball with Giorgio Chiellini and Daniele De Rossi of Italy during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group D match between Italy and Costa Rica
Mario Balotelli of Italy attempts a goal as Oscar Duarte of Costa Rica gives chase during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group D match between Italy and Costa Rica
Fanny Neguesha, fiancee of Mario Balotelli of Italy, looks on during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group D match between Italy and Costa Rica
Italian soccer team fans watch as their team plays against the Costa Rican team as they watch on the screen setup at the Word Cup FIFA Fan Fest during on Copacabana beach
Mario Balotelli of Italy controls the ball during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group D match between Italy and Costa Rica

Costa Rica produced another huge upset to reach the knockout stages of the World Cup for the second time on Friday with Bryan Ruiz's goal securing a 1-0 Group D win over Italy that also ensured England were eliminated.

Ruiz headed powerfully home a minute before halftime to leave Costa Rica fans dancing in the sunshine at Recife's Pernambuco arena.

"We kept up our heads. It was a beautiful match... The people of Costa Rica deserve this. They supported the team and me. This was for them," said ecstatic coach Jorge Luis Pinto.

Costa Rica top the group with six points, having already beaten Uruguay in their first game, while Italy, three points adrift, now need at least a draw from their final game against Uruguay, also on three points, to go through on goal difference.

"We knew this would be a particularly tough group. We will try to recover all our energy for the Uruguay game," said Italy coach Cesare Prandelli.

"We didn't get our tactics wrong. They were very, very aggressive and we were trying to find different ways into the game but we didn't manage it."

In making the last 16 for the first time in 24 years, the Central Americans ensured England became the latest team to make a surprise early exit, leaving at the group stages for the first time since 1958.

The midday sun reduced the early stages to shadow boxing, with Italy hogging the ball but strolling round the pitch at walking pace while Costa Rica were busy but cautious.

Costa Rica's back-five pushed high up the pitch to compress the space as Italy sat back and looked to hit on the break, a tactic which almost paid dividends on the half-hour mark as Mario Balotelli was sent clear by a superb through ball from Andrea Pirlo.

But the striker, who headed the winner in Italy's opening win over England, miscontrolled the ball with his first touch and then tried and failed to lob keeper Kaylor Nevas with his second.

As the first half was drawing to a close, Costa Rica showed why they can pose such a threat.

In the space of three minutes, Oscar Duarte headed fractionally over, Joel Campbell had a penalty appeal waved away by Chilean referee Enrique Osses and Ruiz headed them in front.

Junior Diaz floated a beautiful cross to the far post and Ruiz arrived to head it in off the underside of the bar and over the line, with the decision to award a goal confirmed on the big screen.

Italy brought on Antonio Cassano at halftime, but Costa Rica expertly took the sting out of the match, reducing their opponents only to glimpses of goal, while they continued to look threatening on the counter.

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