Saturday, June 14, 2014

Italy Overcome England 2-1 with Balotelli Header

After Costa Rica's impressive 3-1 comeback against Uruguay, the pressure was on England and Italy as they faced off in Manaus. Both sides were hunting for a win, and it was England who came out with the right intensity, creating a couple of good early chances. However Italy soon took over with their languid possession, stifling England's quick tempo with Pirlo and Verratti in central midfield moving the ball with ease.

While the Azzurri took their time going forward, when things clicked they took the lead with a well worked set play from a corner. It was Pirlo's calm dummy which let the ball slip to Claudio Marchisio, who rifled a low shot into the bottom corner of Joe Hart's net. It was a great goal to give a patient Italy side the lead, but England's reaction came quickly. Not more than two minutes later a through ball on the left wing released Rooney to place a curled cross for Sturridge to tap in.

Even if England had sparked the majority of the action in the first half, they came out slow in the second. It was Tim Cahill who was caught napping five minutes into the half when Candreva's cross found Mario Balotelli with just enough space to head into the back of the net. For all of the early promise England showed, the Three Lions were once more left chasing the Italian's possession.

Marchisio's strike to give Italy the lead
As the half went on, England brought on Barkley and Lallana, hoping for an injection of creativity.  Ross Barkley had the best moment of the half for England with a low shot which forced Sirigu into a diving save. Italy continued in their collected possession, slowly wearing down England and the clock but not creating any notable chances. Both sides seemed to have switched off by the time the final whistle arrived: Italy were content with the lead and England unable to find any continuity without the ball.

Now, Costa Rica currently tops Group D with Italy just behind on goal difference. Meanwhile England and Uruguay are both without points, and will face each other on Thursday June 19th. Both sides will be desperate for a win in order to still have a chance of qualifying for the knockout stages. The real question which remains is whether Costa Rica will be able to get a positive result against Italy, and make a real case for reaching the knockout stages.

Can England pick themselves up after this loss and get a result against Uruguay? Are Costa Rica the true dark horses for this World Cup? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Costa Rica Upset Uruguay With 3-1 Comeback

Costa Rica's Duarte celebrating his diving header
There are very few certainties when it comes to the World Cup, but when group D was drawn it looked certain that Costa Rica would be the punching bag of all the teams. Yet in their first game against Uruguay, Costa Rica have managed to defeat the current south american champions. Uruguay were the very team which stopped Costa Rica from attending the 2010 World Cup, as the two sides faced off in the qualifier playoff which was won by Uruguay.

Today's match started just yesterday's between Spain and the Netherlands, with the favourites Uruguay grabbing an early lead with a precise penalty by Cavani after Uruguay's captain Diego Lugano was dragged down in the penalty area. In the first half Costa Rica were unable to find a proper rhythm, chasing the game without really managing to worry a Uruguay side which had left Suarez on the bench due to injury worries.

However, it wasn't even ten minutes into the second half when Costa Rica spread out of their half in a passing move which ended with Joel Campbell's powerful strike into the back of the net. While Uruguay tried to recollect themselves, just three minutes later Costa Rica struck for the lead with Oscar Duarte's diving header placed into the far bottom corner of Muslera's goal. At this point Uruguay were doing damage control as Costa Rica continued to hassle and threaten the South American goal.

Urena's tight finish to make it 3-1
As the second half ticked away both coaches made a flurry of substitutions, and it was Costa Rica's which ultimately paid off just a few minutes from the end. The fresh legs of Marco Urena latched onto a well timed through ball right before cutting a tight angled finish which rolled over the line to complete the comeback. It was a glorious goal for Costa Rica, especially considering they had never beaten Uruguay in their history, and were knocked out of qualifying for the 2010 World Cup by the Uruguayans.

The match ended with some tempers flaring from the Uruguayan players, with Maxi Pereira receiving a red card in injury time after a vicious hack at Joel Campbell's shin. After this loss and the suspension for Maxi Pereira, Uruguay find themselves in a difficult position in one of the most competitive groups. Meanwhile, Costa Rica will be waiting to see the result of the Italy v. England match, as a draw between the two favourites of the group could strengthen the possibility of Costa Rica qualifying for the knockout stages from the one of the toughest World Cup groups.

What are your thoughts on Costa Rica's upset comeback? Can Costa Rica challenge for the knockout stages? Share your thoughts in the comments below!


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