Jun 20, 2014; Recife, Pernambuco, BRAZIL; Italy forward Mario Balotelli (9) looks back at referee Enrique Osses after he received a yellow card during the second half of their 1-0 loss to Costa Rica in a 2014 World Cup game at Arena Pernambuco. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

World Cup: Italy Flat Against Costa Rica

The Italian national team came into their match against Costa Rica looking to secure a win and stay on top of Group D at the 2014 World Cup. Costa Rica, fresh off a 3-1 surprise thrashing of Uruguay in their opening World Cup match, looked to further their chances to advance to the knockout round for the first time since Italia 1990.

Italy received a pre-match boost with the news that goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, however it proved to not be enough. Costa Rica was brilliant, their defense caught Italy offisde 11 times, with the Azzuri wasting what few chances they had.

Costa Rica proved nearly impossible to break down for the Italians, who definitely appeared to start very sluggishly, perhaps as a result of their exhausting match against England in Manaus. During that game the Italians ran more than any other team had done in the tournament, and perhaps they could still feel its effects in their legs.

Costa Rica was denied a clear penalty near halftime, and despite their anger over this they got equal by scoring a wonderful goal just a minute later, with Ruiz converting a perfect cross from Diaz by smashing a header past Chiellini in defense and Buffon in goal, 1-0 to the Ticos and that would be all she wrote.

Italian striker Mario Balotelli was not at his best, and in fact the Italians wasted the few chances he created, however not all is lost for Italy. Should they win or draw against Uruguay in their final group match, they will advance to the knockout round. England, however, have been officially eliminated from the competition. Costa Rica are already through to the round of 16.

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Tags: Costa Rica Italy World Cup

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