One more European soccer veteran fell to a Latin American team on Friday as Costa Rica stormed Italy with 1-0, putting their opponents’ qualification in doubt, while France thumped Switzerland 5-2 in an tremendous World Cup display on Friday.
After yet another upset in Brazil, Costa Rica’s victory put them forward to top of Group D and eliminated England, while their last night’s opponents and Uruguay are now set to fight it out for the other qualification spot when they meet on field on Tuesday.
“In the Friday’s third game, goals in each half from striker Enner Valencia gave Ecuador a 2-1 win over Honduras in World Cup Group E to boost their hopes of making the last 16,” Reuters writes.
Currently France team tops the group with six points, while Ecuador and Switzerland each have three. Honduras have now lost twice and are facing likely elimination.
Meanwhile, Bryan Ruiz’s header in the first half separated the sides, making happy Costa Rica fans dancing in the sunshine at Recife’s Pernambuco arena after a second successive win.
“We kept our heads. It was a beautiful match… The people of Costa Rica deserve this. They supported the team and me. This was for them,” said the team’s coach Jorge Luis Pinto.
Italy coach Cesare Prandelli tried to stay positive before the Uruguay clash, with his side needing a draw to qualify due to superior goal difference.
“Right now I don’t think we need to be negative, we need to think about recovering our energies because we have another game in a few days’ time, we play against Uruguay and whether we qualify depends on that,” Prandelli said to reporters.
The Italian coach also admitted that he did’e blame the midday heat in Recife for the defeat.
“We know about the calendar, we’ve known it for some time,” Prandelli said. “It’s useless to try and find excuses, we’re not looking for excuses, we have to be ready at the kickoff.”
A Brazilian judge on Friday urged FIFA to follow its own guidelines and stop play at all World Cup games every 30 minutes for a water break if the temperature is 32 degrees Celsius (90 Fahrenheit) or higher. However, FIFA played down the significance of the decision.
“We did not reach or exceed 32 degrees at any moment in any game so far,” FIFA spokeswoman Delia Fischer said. “The court is only ordering us to follow our own procedures which we have always planned to do.”
Meanwhile, Switzerland coach Ottmar Hitzfeld suffered much more painful experience as he observed how his defence was torn apart by wave after wave of attacks from France’s forward line.
Coach Didier Deschamps likened the team spirit to that of 16 years ago when he played in the France side that won the World Cup on home soil.
“It is the same thing that we saw in 1998. While we cannot compare each changing room, I have a very focused group at present, they have a mindset that they want to maintain, even those who play less. There is a force that is rising,” he said.
“(While) this is not a guarantee of success, in addition to our qualities this mindset is very important.”