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Costa Rica stuns Italy with 1-0 victory, advances to knockout stage of World Cup

By Brian McMahon,
Costa Rica used a goal from Bryan Ruiz to defeat Italy

Costa Rica pulled off its second major upset of the World Cup as they defeated Italy 1-0 to advance to the second round of the tournament.

In the first World Cup match of the day, Costa Rica and Italy squared off in what would be a battle for first place atop Group D.

Coming into the day, Costa Rica had the most surprising win of the tournament when they beat Uruguay 3-1 in their first game. Italy was coming off an impressive win of their own, beating England 2-1 in their opening game.

Nobody would be cheering for the Azzuri more than England, who would need an Italian victory to keep hope alive for going through to the next round. Despite losing their first two matches, England still had a chance to finish second in the group, according to Metro.co.uk.

Costa Rican fans held their breath in the 31st minute when Mario Balotelli attempted to chip a shot over goalkeeper, Keylor Navas, after receiving a perfect pass from Andrea Pirlo.

Balotelli was creating pressure again, just two minutes later when his snap shot was turned away by Navas.

However, it would be Costa Rica that opened the scoring just before halftime when Bryan Ruiz headed home a ]cross from Júnior Díaz. Italian keeper, Gianluigi Buffon, who missed the first game of the tournament due to injury, was helpless as the header hit the bottom of the crossbar before bouncing just over the goal line. It was well-deserved as Costa Rica should have been given a penalty just moments before.

There was a bit of scuffle between the two teams as they walked into their locker rooms at halftime with Costa Rico having a 1-0 lead, notes Bleacher Report.

Andrea Pirlo, who was the star in Italy's 2-1 win over England, kept relatively quiet in the first half. The Juventus midfielder only had 36 first half touches, compared to his 72 against England.

Italy, the winners of four World Cups, would need a special performance in the second half. They had only comeback to win a World Cup game after trailing at halftime once in the history of the tournament.

It was a gritty second half performance for the Central Americans, who limited Italy's scoring chances, keeping Balotelli out of the mix.

The win is arguably Costa Rica's best in its history, and guarantees them a spot in the knockout stages for only the second time.

It was a lackluster performance for the Italians, who will now need at least a draw when they face Uruguay on June 24 to finish second in the group and join Costa Rica in the knockout stages.

 
 

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