In another stunning upset, Costa Rica defeated Italy in the early game on Friday by a final score of 1-0. In their first Cup game last Saturday, the Ticos took care of the heavily favored Uruguayans, 3-1.
It is the first time that a Central American team has won two games in one World Cup.
The only goal was scored by the attacking midfielder, Bryan Ruiz, who plays for PSV Eindhoven in the Dutch league, just before halftime. A perfect cross from Junior Díaz caught Ruiz streaking to the right of the goal. Ruiz headed the ball over the outstretched arms of Italian keeper Gianluigi Buffon.
The goal came just a minute after Costa Rica’s Joel Campbell was forearmed down to the ground by Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini in the penalty area, but it wasn’t called.
Italy’s striker Mario Balotelli had a number of good scoring opportunities. The best one came in the 31st minute on a long, perfect pass from Andrea Pirlo that Balotelli tried to bloop over the charging Costa Rican goalie, Keylor Navas, but missed just left of the goal.
With the win, Costa Rica is now in sole possession of first place in Group D with 6 points. Their next opponent on Tuesday is England, which is now officially eliminated from the Cup.
Italy and Uruguay, who play each other on Tuesday, are tied with 3 points apiece. Because Italy has an edge in goal differential, the first tiebreaker, Italy would advance to the Round of 16 with either a win or a tie.