Costa Rica

The Netherlands 2-1 Mexico

Two late goals from Wesley Sneijder and Klaas Jan Huntelaar provided Dutch delight as Holland reached the last eight with a 2-1 win over Mexico.

Louis Van Gaal’s exciting side sealed the win deep into added time when Huntelaar converted a penalty won by Arjen Robben. The player of the tournament contender was fouled by Rafael Marquez but with minimal contact. Robben showing the other meaning to his “Flying Dutchman” nickname.

Ex-Tottenham midfielder Giovanni Dos Santos provided the opener for the Mexicans three minutes into the second half with a long distance half volley that gave Jasper Cillessen no chance in the Holland goal.

Sneijder equalized for the Netherlands with an equally impressive half volley, Robben’s corner was headed back by substitute Huntelaar into the path of the Galatasaray play-maker who let the ball bounce before smashing it past Guillermo Ochoa and in with two minutes left on the clock.

On what was ultimately a sad day for Mexico, Goalkeeper Ochoa provided one shining light for El Tri, another superb performance from him to illustrate further his credentials as being named the ‘keeper of this World Cup.

His highlight being when he magnificently kept out a Stefan de Vrij header that he tipped onto the bar and out from point blank range.

It is Holland who go onto the Quarter Finals however and they will meet the victor of Costa Rica and Greece.

 

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Italy 0-1 Costa Rica

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The World Cup surprise package Costa Rica produced their second shock win, defeating Italy 0-1 in a result that sent the underdogs through and knocked England out.

Bryan Ruiz provided the goal one minute before half time when he headed home Junior Diaz’s superb cross from the left hand side off the underside of the bar and in.

It was perhaps justice done as just before Costa Rica should have had a penalty when Joel Campbell was bundled over by Giorgio Chiellini.

In what was a game of few clear cut chances, Andrea Pirlo had Italy’s closest effort when his long-range free-kick was beaten away by Keylor Navas.

Despite the attacking introductions of Antonio Cassano, Alessio Cerci and Lorenzo Insigne, Italy could not find the leveler and Costa Rica held on for a historic win that sees them reach round 2 of the World Cup for the first time since 1990. Ironically held in Italy.

Italy now face a do-or-die clash with Uruguay next Tuesday where the winner will join Costa Rica in the last 16.

Uruguay 2-1 England: Super Suarez all but eliminates England

England’s hopes of qualifying from Group D looked dashed due to to a brace from Luis Suarez either side of Wayne Rooney’s equalizer.

The Manchester United forward, 28, scored his first goal in a World Cup to level the scores with 15 minutes left when he tapped home a Glen Johnson squared pass to give England hope.

Rooney could have dragged England level earlier but shot straight at Fernando Muslera ten minutes into the second half after he knocked the ball past a La Celeste defender.

Suarez killed English dreams though when he tucked the ball past Joe Hart after Muslera’s goal-kick has flicked on by England Captain Steven Gerrard.

Suarez had earlier given Uruguay the lead when he scored a controlled header past Hart but the spine of the England team were largely at fault.

Gerrard and Jordan Henderson were caught out and allowed Nicolas Lodeiro space in midfield and teed up Edinson Cavini who easily lost Glen Johnson and FCavani’s cross was headed in by El Pistolero when Phil Jagielka failed to follow the runner.

Bolt from the Sky Blue: Star Suarez breaks England hearts.

Bolt from the Sky Blue: Star Suarez breaks England hearts.

England did show signs of promise in the first period though, Wayne Rooney curled a free-kick narrowly past the post after ten minutes and later hit the bar with a close range header from Gerrard’s free-kick.

Uruguay threatened themselves after quarter of an hour when Jagielka’s sliced clearance landed at the feet of Cristian Rodriguez who shot inches over from the edge of the box.

A low Luis Suarez corner was also blazed over from Cavani.

Daniel Sturridge had the last opportunity though when Rooney’s intelligent through ball found the Liverpool man who had his shot from a tight angle parried by Fernando Muslera at his near post.

Controversy overshadowed the match however as the stand in Uruguay Captain Diego Godin should have been sent off for putting his elbow up to Sturridge’s face in a body check. He had previously been yellow carded for a handball.

The Three Lions now need Italy to defeat both Costa Rica tomorrow and Uruguay next Tuesday while England must also beat Costa Rica themselves, relying on goal difference, to have any chance of making it to round two.

 

 

 

World Cup Preview: England

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Possibly the first World Cup ever where England do not go into the tournament tipped as being one of the favourites, Brazil could be the start of something new for Roy’s boys.

Up and coming young stars such as Ross Barkley, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Raheem Sterling will all be looking to gain valuable tournament experience ahead of being future England figureheads.

England are hindered by being drawn into the so called “group of death” with 2006 World Cup winners Italy and Luis Suarez’ Uruguay and will need to hit the ground running if they have any chance of making it past the group stages.

The Azzuri are England’s first opponents and three points are needed in that or England’s second match against Uruguay if they are to progress. A win also must come against expected whipping boys Costa Rica.

Much of the attention, as ever, going into the tournament is centered on Wayne Rooney with some calling to drop the Manchester United forward.

Rooney, 28, has never scored a World Cup goal in the eight games he’s played in and must prove his undoubted ability this summer to finally show his worth when it counts for England.

Uruguay 1-3 Costa Rica

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Underdogs Costa Rica provided the shock of the tournament so far with a stunning 1-3 win over a much fancied Uruguay side that finished fourth in the World Cup just four years ago.

Oscar Duarte was the hero for Costa Rica when he headed accurately past Muslera to send pre-tournament whipping boys into ecstasy. His first goal for his national side.

Things went from good to brilliant for Joel Campbell and co when Marco Urena slotted home past on onrushing Muslera, picking up man of the match Joel Campbell’s intelligent through ball.

The favourites took the lead though after 24 minutes through Edinson Cavani’s penalty, powered in low past Keynor Navas’ left hand side who dived the right way but just couldn’t get a hand to it.

Diego Lugano was the man who won the penalty when he was felled by a rugby tackle from behind by Junor Diaz.

Costa Rica scored a shock leveler on the 54 minute mark when a neat passing move was worked to Cristian Gamboa who delivered a superb cross that landed at the feet of Joel Campbell who took a touch before lashing the ball into the back of the net.

It was almost 1-3 when key man Campbell again went close, a curling effort from distance whistling past Muslera’s goal.

La Sele showed promise throughout the game, firstly when Campbell struck a fierce shot that flew just past the post.

They went close again when Christian Bolanos’ free-kick found itself at Giancarlo Gonzalez’s feet and a weak shot from him was deflected out for a corner which Uruguay dealt with.

Diego Forlan had Uruguay’s closest effort in the first half – a blocked shot by Duarte that was looping over Navas but he produced a fine stop to tip it over for a corner.

Despite being the much stronger team on paper, La Celeste just couldn’t find a way through, goal scorer Cavani had a half chance with a header but Navas was equal to it.

It got even more embarrassing for Uruguay when Maxi Pereira took a nasty and needless swipe at Campbell and saw red to sum up an awful night for the South Americans.

World Cup Preview: Costa Rica

Costa Rica go into this World Cup with every right to be downhearted, a group that will see them face Italy, Uruguay and England will almost certainly seal a first round exit.

If there is anything the Costa Ricans can be optimistic about, they will find it. Inspiration could be taken from their last World Cup appearance in 2006 that, although they lost every game, they were fairly competitive.

A narrow 4-2 loss to hosts Germany in game one of the tournament showed how they can worry the big sides. Paulo Wanchope leveled the scores at 1-1 in Munich while two of Germany’s goals – Phillip Lahm’s opener and Torsten Frings’ sealer were truly unstoppable.

Costa Rica have reached round two on previous occasion though, finishing second in a group of Brazil, Sweden and Scotland in Italia 90 before a 4-1 thrashing by Czechoslovakia.

Joel Campbell, on loan at Olympiakos from Arsenal, will be the inspiration in Brazil but he, and the rest of La Sele will need to have the best three games of their lives if they are going to upset all the odds in group D.