Italy became nervous and jittery as they failed to deal with Joe Campbell’s runs. Costa Rica remained composed and never gave much away. They penetrated systematically without giving the former Fifa World Cup champions any respect. They won the midfield bouts and played the ball through the middle to Campbell who beat three Italians and was felled in the penalty area, but the referee ignored the incident.
Justice was done minutes later as they did not need that call. They played the ball in midfield and pushed it left. There was no Italian pressure to press the ball in the middle of the park. The winger had ample time to control and cross without anyone closing down on the ball. Bryan Ruiz timed his perfect run being monitored by two defenders and met the cross at the far post to head past Buffon.
Italy came from the break showing further signs of decay in midfield. They lacked compactness and exposed their defence, which became stretched and played too far apart. That crack in defence became more exposed as Costa Rica played the long ball consistently at the same point, almost ripping it open with each launch.
Pirlo played too defensively without affecting much of the attack. This made the Europeans too slow in attack and fail to deliver any final pass for the isolated Balottelli. The midfield carried the ball too much and could not penetrate the South Americans defence. They were too careless, lost possession easily, and gave away easy free kicks in a very amateurish manner.
To the credit of Costa Rica, they did not make special arrangements for Pirlo who played very far away from the dance floor, and Balottelli. They had their game plan that boarded around their own strengths and stuck to it. They counter-attacked very well playing directly with the long ball through the centre. They remained compact at the back and stayed composed without diving into tackles or unnecessarily rushing their attacks.
It became one deserved win for Costa Rica as they put a perfect all-round show. For Italy, they did not come to the party and everything that could go wrong went wrong. England should have been watching with awe, how they lost to the Italians. The result sadly sends England home early while Italy and Uruguay will decide who stays between them.