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Costa Rica beat Italy and knock England out of World Cup

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Costa Rica beat Italy and knock England out of World Cup


For the second time in their history Costa Rica have qualified for the last 16 of the World Cup.

After stunning Uruguay in their Group D opener the Central Americans created another huge upset in Recife by beating four-times champions Italy 1-0.

Bryan Ruiz powerfully headed home a minute before the break to send his side through to the knockout stages for a second time – 24 years after their first in Italy.

Costa Rica’s second surprise result brought England’s miserable campaign to an early end.

After two opening defeats Roy Hodgson’s men are eliminated from the group stage for the first time since 1958 and the first time ever after just two matches played.

Italy and Uruguay will now play for the group’s second last 16 berth when the pair meet in Natal on Tuesday.

France close in on last 16

France have all but qualified for the last 16 of the World Cup after a 5-1 thrashing of Switzerland in Group E.

Olivier Giroud gave ‘les Blues’ the lead on 17 minutes while Blaise Matuidi doubled it 13 seconds after the restart.

France’s attacking tactics paid off again when Mathieu Valbuena scored on 40 minutes.

Karim Benzema made up for a missed first-half penalty to slot home on 67 minutes to put the win beyond any doubt.

Moussa Sissoko capped off a fine and dominant display from Didier Deschamps’ men firing home the fifth on 73 minutes.

Blerim Dzemaili and Granit Xhaka saved face for Ottmar Hitzfeld’s Switzerland in the final ten minutes but it was far too little far too late as France comfortably picked up all three points.

Honduras could have sent France through to the last 16 if they avoided defeat against Ecuador later in the day, however it wasn’t to be as the South Americans won through 2-1 to boost their own chances of making the knockout stage.

Up ahead

After thrashing Portugal 4-0, Germany are getting ready to square off with Ghana, who are looking for revenge on Saturday.

Germany have won their two previous meetings with the African side, the last of which was a 1-0 victory in the group stage of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Coach Joachim Loew has only one injury worry with defender Mats Hummels – who scored against Portugal but suffered a thigh strain.

Otherwise Loew has a fully fit squad as they look to put one foot in the last 16 with victory.

A family affair

The match will have a slight family affair twist to it as Kevin-Prince Boateng and brother Jerome will take to the pitch, albeit for opposing sides.

Kevin-Prince Boateng and his Ghana teammates will be eager to put their defeat by the USA behind them and coach Kwesi Appiah will most likely field an unchanged team for this tie.

Ahead of the second round of matches in Group G Germany and the USA lead with three points, Ghana are third with Portugal rock bottom.

A win away

Argentina will book their ticket for the knockout stages with a win over Iran at the Estadio Mineirao in Belo Horizonte on Saturday.

Striker Rodrigo Palacio missed his side’s victory over Bosnia and Herzegovina but has returned to training and could feature.

Coach Alejandro Sabella and his men are otherwise at full strength and will be confident of reaching the next phase for the third consecutive edition.

Iran coach Carlos Queiroz has only one injury concern heading into the tie as striker Sardar Azmoun picked up a knock in their opening draw with Nigeria and is unlikely to feature.

It is the fourth appearance at the finals by Iran but they are hunting their first foray into the last 16 after failed attempts in 1978, ’98 and 2006.

It’s the first time the two nations have met at a World Cup.

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