Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 25th 2014 Contents BELO HORIZONTE---The
beach ball being thrown around
the stand by bored, cheering
fans captured just how serene
Costa Rica s progress has been
at the World Cup.
It should never have been this
easy for the only team in Group
D which isn t a past World Cup
winner and doesn t feature in
the top 10 of the FIFA rankings.
But history and status proved no
hindrance for the central Amer-
ican minnows, who turned the
group on its head by progressing
With qualification to the round
of 16 already secured with vic-
tories over Uruguay and Italy,
the pressure was off as the Costa
Ricans held another former
champion, England, 0-0 to
secure top spot yesterday. And
it is England and Italy taking
early flights home from Brazil,
not the less illustrious footballing
"We are really happy because
this was called the Group of
Death," Costa Rica coach Jorge
Luis Pinto said through a trans-
lator after the 0-0 draw. "We
always thought we would win,
everybody who comes to play at
a World Cup thinks they are
going to win. The other teams
were really difficult but we came
with victory in mind."
Pinto never doubted his play-
ers abilities with performances
that belied their position at 28
in the rankings, just below a
Scotland team which hasn t
qualified for the World Cup since
After opening in Brazil with a
3-1 win over 2010 semifinalist
Uruguay, the defensively-solid
Costa Rica overcame 2006
champion Italy 1-0.
"Some people didn t believe
this was possible," Pinto said.
"Our team has proved we can
play good football. It makes me
feel proud and our players
deserve recognition. We will keep
this style and philosophy so peo-
ple don t say this is just luck."
For the first time since 1990,
Uruguay is in the second round,
where it could face Pinto s
homeland of Colombia. The
South American nation would
have to drop from top spot in
Group C to second place in the
final round of matches.
"I have already bought tickets
for my family to go and watch
the game," Pinto said. "I have
been ready to play Colombia for
six months. I am looking forward
Confidence in the "Los Ticos"
camp is growing, particularly
after suppressing a young, exper-
imental England team, which
had already been eliminated
"We are not just staying in
our half," Pinto said, reflecting
on the group stage. "We are
doing something unexpected for
some. Some said we would only
defend, but that s not true. We
have been able to attack as well
and that s why we feel so proud.
"We come from a country
where people like to play football
so I m glad my players have been
very wonderful with the ball.
They don t just try to kick the
ball out, they try to keep pos-
session. ... We are playing with
quality and good tactics. And we
have a good dynamic in the
Japan 1 ( Shinji Okazaki 45+1) vs Colombia 4 (Juan
Codrado 17 pen, Jackson Martinez, 55, 82, James
Greece 2 (Andreas Samaras 42, Georgios Samaras
90+3) vs Ivory Coast 1 (Wilfried Bony 74)
Italy 0 vs Uruguay 1 (Diego Godin 81)
England 0 Costa Rica 0
How they finished
PlWDL F APts+/-
Costa Rica, Uruguay, Colombia, Greece advance
Honduras vs Switzerland, Manaus 4 pm
Both teams can qualify for next round, depending on
Ecuador and France, but the French are expected to
complete the job, which would mean Switzerland only
require a draw.
However, if Ecuador look like getting something out of
their match, then the Swiss will need to push for a win
and Honduras certainly aren't going to make it easy for
Switzerland have, thus far, shown signs of naivety,
finding themselves a goal behind after half an hour in
each of their first two matches.
But they have finished games well as they dug deep to
get the result against Ecuador and scored twice in the
last 10 minutes of the France match.
Ecuador vs France, Rio de Janeiro, 4 pm
Didier Deschamps' side didn't set the world alight in the
first half-hour in their opening game but there was a
strong sense that they had matters in hand before
Karim Benzema's goal put them in control.
They have all but qualified for the last 16 and only need
a draw to confirm top spot. Benzema now has three
goals and will be keen to kick on for the top-scorer
gong. Ecuador's three goals have all been scored by
Enner Valencia who plays his for Pachuca in Mexico.
There will be plenty of clubs showing interest in the 25-
year-old, even if Ecuador go home.
NigerIa vs Argentina, Porto Alegre, noon
A point takes Argentina through as group winners and
also ensures Nigeria move into the last 16.
Nigeria should not be dismissed having produced a
better display against Bosnia than they did in their
opener against Iran.
However, Nigeria were not at all solid at the back and
Argentina seem more likely to punish them if a similar
Messi, who celebrated his 27th birthday yesterday, has
bailed Argentina out when they've needed it. The rest
of the fabled attack - Sergio Aguero, Gonzalo Higuain et
al - has failed to produce a goal.
Bosnia vs Iran, Salvador, noon
Bosnia had been most people's picks to qualify
alongside Argentina but they are already out.
While Bosnia have failed to live up to expectation, Iran
have exceeded theirs.
Their defensive solidity has been impressive and they
remain in the hunt although they will need to win today.
Iran showed against Argentina what they can offer
going forward and that could be a problem. They looked
vulnerable when Nigeria broke and that deficiency is
effectively what eliminated them.
USA vs Germany, Recife, noon
Portugal vs Ghana, Brasilia, noon
Korea vs Belgium, Sao Paulo, 4 pm
Algeria vs Russia, Curitiba, 4 pm
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Wednesday, June 25, 2014
WORLD CUP GLANCE
Uruguay puts hurt on Italy
NATAL---After nearly two weeks of most-
ly beautiful, free-flowing football, the
game s ugly side was on full display when
Uruguay edged 10-man Italy 1-0 yesterday
to reach the second round of the World
With a bite on the shoulder, a shin to the
head and a boot to the knee, there wasn t
much to admire at the Arena das Dunas.
Even the match s lone goal was a product
of brute force---it didn t even come with a
kick or a header.
Uruguay defender Diego Godin scored
with his shoulder in the 81st minute of an
"in or out" match to send his side through
to the second round, but the victory was
overshadowed by a biting incident involving
the South American squad s star forward
And with four-time champion Italy head-
ing home after the group phase for a second
time in four years, coach Cesare Prandelli
and football federation president Giancarlo
Abete both resigned moments after the
"When you don t score a goal in two
matches and don t create much, it s clearly
a failure," Italy captain Gianluigi Buffon said,
with the Azzurri having also been beaten
1-0 by Costa Rica in their previous match.
This match was decided when Godin rose
above a crowd of defenders to redirect a
corner with his back to the goal.
Moments earlier, replays showed Suarez
apparently bite the shoulder of Italy defender
Giorgio Chiellini as the pair clashed in the
Italian penalty area.
Suarez was already sanctioned with a
heavy ban for biting Chelsea defender
Branislav Ivanovic in the English Premier
League in 2013 and FIFA can sanction players
for biting with bans of up to two years.
Chiellini said Suarez should have been
sent off and that a red card earlier for Italy
midfielder Claudio Marchisio should never
have been given.
"The red for Marchisio and not sending
off Suarez were ridiculous," Chiellini said.
"It was absolutely clear. There s even a
mark," Chiellini said of the bite.
It was one of the most appalling incidents
in the World Cup since France s Zinedine
Zidane head butted Marco Materazzi of Italy
in the 2006 final.
But the biting incident wasn t all.
In the 59th, Marchisio was shown a
straight red card for putting his boot into
Egidio Arevalo s knee.
And midway through the first half, Mario
Balotelli picked up his second yellow card
in two matches for a needless foul on Alvaro
Balotelli practically leapt over the mid-
fielder, hitting the back of his opponent s
head with his left shin.
Pereira was already the victim of a head
injury in Uruguay s 2-1 win over England.
Balotelli was benched for the second peri-
od.FIFA listed the temperature at a sizzling
33C (91F), and clouds gave way to sun about
midway through the first half, providing no
relief for the players.
Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez wanted to
watch the biting incident again.
Suarez did not respond to questions from
print reporters after the game, passing by
them with a smile and a thumbs-up.
Costa Rica was the surprise winner of
Group D with seven points following a 0-
0 draw with England on Tuesday. Uruguay
finished second with six, while Italy and
England went home with three and one
Uruguay s next opponent will be the win-
ner of Group C, which is currently led by
"(The referee) certainly didn t give us a
helping hand," Buffon said. "But in the end
you can t always be recriminating and put-
ting the blame on others."
Uruguay had to win to go through while
Italy needed only a draw and it was clear
that the Azzurri were playing for that result
when Prandelli replaced Balotelli with a
defensive midfielder, Andrea Parolo, to start
the second half.
It appeared the tactic could work when
Buffon stuck his right arm out to deny an
excellent effort from Suarez in the 66th.
Uruguay had argued for a penalty in the
51st when Edinson Cavani got his legs tan-
gled with Leonardo Bonucci, but Mexican
referee Marco Rodirguez motioned to play
on.The last time Italy failed to proceed from
the group stages in two successive World
Cups came between 1950 and 1966, when
Italy was eliminated in the first round four
"I assume full responsibility," Prandelli
said. "(But) it s absurd to be left with 10
men in a match like this. There were no
ugly fouls worthy of being sent off. (AP)
England's Frank Lampard controls the ball past Costa Rica's Yeltsin
Tejeda during the group D World Cup soccer match between Costa
Rica and England at the Mineirao Stadium in Belo Horizonte,
Brazil, yesterday. AP Photo
Costa Rica survives 'Group of Death'
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