Costa Rica produced their second stunning upset in a week to beat a poor Italy side and confirm England’s exit from the 2014 World Cup.
The Central Americans fully warranted their win at Arena Pernambuco, which was sealed by a Bryan Ruiz header shortly before half-time.
The former Fulham striker watched his effort hit the crossbar and bounce over the line. Goal-line technology confirmed the decision.
This result proved Costa Rica’s victory over Uruguay in Fortaleza had been no fluke and they might have won more comfortably had they been awarded a penalty when Arsenal striker Joel Campbell was clearly fouled in the penalty area.
Italy were a shadow of the side that beat England comfortably in Manaus and now drop into second place in Group D, behind Costa Rica. Uruguay are third on goal difference.
The result confirmed what England had feared after Thursday’s 2-1 defeat to Uruguay in Sao Paulo and means Roy Hodgson’s side will be eliminated whatever the result against Costa Rica in Belo Horizonte on Tuesday.
Italy face Uruguay in Natal at the same time.
History was not on England’s side going into this contest. Italy had failed to win their second group match at any of the previous three World Cups.
One man who had been present on all three occasions was goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon. Having missed Italy’s opening game against England, the Juventus captain was passed fit to play in his fourth World Cup, becoming only the fifth Italian to do so.
On his return, there were signs of rust as Costa Rica controlled much of the first half.
The Italy goalkeeper came for a corner but missed, only for Celso Borges to head just over. Buffon got down smartly to save a low shot from the excellent Christian Bolanos but the real drama was still to come.
The half burst into life shortly before the interval with two key incidents.
In the first, Arsenal striker Joel Campbell checked back onto his left foot and ran at the Italian defence with his typical vigour. His run was ended in the penalty area, as defender Giorgio Chiellini cut across the 21-year-old as he prepared to shoot.
It looked a clear penalty, but referee Enrique Osses from Chile waved played on to the disbelief of those in the Arena Pernambuco.
Costa Rica would not be denied, though.
Within a minute, they came forward again. Bolanos swung the ball wide to the left flank where Junior Diaz curled an inviting ball towards Brian Ruiz at the back post. The former Fulham forward connected with a header that first struck the crossbar and then bounced down, beyond the dive of Buffon, and over the line.
The Costa Ricans exploded with joy. It was no more than they deserved.
Italy could only get better and but any improvement was marginal. Andrea Pirlo tested Navas with a free-kick that wobbled and dipped, while Matteo Darmian thumped a rising shot that was tipped over the bar by the Costa Rica goalkeeper.
But their best chance had fallen to Mario Balotelli much earlier in the game. It went to waste.
The opportunity in question came after a majestic lofted pass by Pirlo. The former Manchester City striker controlled it but could only loft his shot wide with the goal at his mercy.
Costa Rica will now face any one of Ivory Coast, Colombia, Greece or Japan in the next round.
Source: BBC Sport