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RIO DE JANEIRO – The World Cup of surprises continued Friday with tiny Costa Rica shocking another World Cup champion and sending a third one home. Then the French exploded with five goals over their Swiss neighbors.
Two European powers — Spain and England — are out of contention after just two games, and the Brazilian World Cup is becoming a sweet samba party for teams from the Americas. Their record as of Friday against teams from other regions: played 12, lost just two.
European teams have played eight teams from the Americas and won just twice. In short, the new world is embarrassing the old one. And the nine teams from Africa, Asia and Oceania have so far contrived to win just one game between them.
None of the previous seven World Cups in the Americas were won by teams outside Latin America. On current evidence, this one looks increasingly unlikely to be the exception.
Although the score was just 1-0, Costa Rica was an easy winner Friday over four-time world champion Italy in the coastal city of Recife. Having also won its first match, 3-1, against two-time winner Uruguay, Costa Rica is now guaranteed a spot in the knockout stage.
Costa Rica's win also killed off England's faint hopes of advancing. Italy and Uruguay will play each other on Tuesday to determine which of them joins Costa Rica in advancing from Group D and which will join 1966 champion England and 2010 winner Spain in phoning their travel agents.
Costa Rica, with just 5 million people, was seen as the easy win in the group — the first ever with three former world champions. Instead, the Ticos have looked like the most talented team of the four, and are already preparing for a knockout game.
The only two European nations to have beaten Americas teams so far in Brazil are France and Switzerland, which overcame Honduras and Ecuador, respectively, in their first Group E matches. On Friday, France and Switzerland played each other in Salvador, also on the coast. The French were rampant winners, 5-2, all but guaranteeing they, too, will advance to the last 16 for only the second time since they won the title in 1998.
Five different players scored for France, now on top of Group E.
The two other teams in the group, Ecuador and Honduras played in the late game in Curitiba.