Los Ticos have been producing upsets left and right in this competition, and with the scoreless draw today they have won a group that was filled with three previous World Cup winners.
Byline: Jorge Belon, Editor in Chief
BELO HORIZONTE– The Costa Ricans played smart and safe today, as they were able to hang on and tie England 0-0 and win for the first time in their history their group in the process.
“It was an even game today against an opponent who was looking for its first win,” Costa Rican Coach Jorge Luis Pinto told FIFA.com. “I’m delighted we’ve topped the group. We are prepared to face whoever comes and we will face them with great confidence.”
Costa Rica came into this match already had clinched their birth into the second round with their previous 1-0 victory over Italy. However, to win the group all they need to do was get a draw. As for England their fate in this World Cup had already been decided when they lost 2-1 to Uruguay in their second game. This game was simply for pride for the Three Lions, they did not want to leave Brazil with zero points.
With the English chasing the game more, they dominated the match and were looking to score early. 24-year-old English forward Daniel Sturridge through out the match had four clear chances to give England the lead. However, the British struggled to find the back of the net in the World Cup, only scoring two goals in 270 minutes.
Sturridge came really close to scoring twice in the match. The first time was at the 35 minute, when Sturridge headed the ball barely over the net. The Liverpool forward was standing right in front of the goal when he headed the ball.
The second clear cut opportunity came at the 65 minute. Sturridge did perfect one two pass with his fellow teammate, and he received the ball at the right hand side of the penalty box. He had a good angle for a shot, he blasted the ball towards the left hand corner of the net, but the ball would roll harmlessly out of bounds.
The main reason for Sturridge frustration and the rest of the English players, was because of the positioning of the Ticos goalie Keylor Navas. The 27-year-old goalkeeper would constantly be making himself bigger and blocking the British players angles right before they would take the shot. His performance was so recognized that he was won FIFA’s Budweiser player of the match.
“Thank God we had a great match,” Navas told FIFA.com after the match, about wining the player of the match award. “I am personally very happy to receive an award, every footballer likes to have his work acknowledged. But I believe ours is a team effort,you can see that on the pitch and we’re very happy about it.”
The Costa Ricans, would just counter and just kept the English defense honest on a few opportunities, but their main strategy to frustrate the English attack and win the group was a success.
Now the Ticos will be facing Greece on Sunday, June 29 for their first match in the second round since the 1990 World Cup. The match will be played at the Arena Pernambuco at Recife. As for the Three Lions, they will be going home finishing last place in their group with just one point and a negative two goal differential.
Highlights to this match can be seen on this link http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=intl:1909112, video provided by ESPN FC.