Sports

In knocking off Uruguay, Italy in succession, Costa Rica shows it's no World Cup pushover

  • El jugador de Costa Rica, Bryan Ruiz, festeja un gol contra Italia en la Copa del Mundo el viernes, 20 de junio de 2014, en Recife, Brasil. (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan)

    El jugador de Costa Rica, Bryan Ruiz, festeja un gol contra Italia en la Copa del Mundo el viernes, 20 de junio de 2014, en Recife, Brasil. (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan)  (The Associated Press)

  • Costa Rica's Bryan Ruiz (10) watches as the ball goes past Italy's goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon to score his side's first goal during 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/Ricardo Mazalan)

    Costa Rica's Bryan Ruiz (10) watches as the ball goes past Italy's goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon to score his side's first goal during 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/Ricardo Mazalan)  (The Associated Press)

Had Costa Rica been a lesser team, it might still be stewing over referee Enrique Osses' refusal to give a penalty when explosive striker Joel Campbell was taken down in the area.

Instead, the Ticans mounted another of their numerous assaults on the Italian defense, scoring a minute later when Bryan Ruiz headed home Oscar Duarte's long curling cross from the left wing.

Playing with confidence and attacking relentlessly, Costa Rica seized control of Group D with a 1-0 victory over Italy that might have been more lopsided if not for goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon.

Entering the World Cup as the second-place team in CONCACAF qualifying, the Costa Ricans looked like the weakest team in a group also including Uruguay and England. Not anymore.