Bryan Ruiz of Costa Rica celebrates scoring his team's first goal during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group D match between Italy and Costa Rica at Arena Pernambuco on June 20, 2014 in Recife, Brazil. Photo: Getty Images
Bryan Ruiz headed home the only goal of the game as Costa Rica stunned Italy 1-0 and booked their place in the knockout stages of the World Cup with a game to spare, reports Goal.com.
Few would have given Jose Luis Pinto's side any hope of reaching the knockout stages prior to the start of the Brazil showpiece.
But, after stunning Uruguay 3-1 in their opening Group D encounter last Saturday, Costa Rica produced another fantastic performance to progress from the group phase of a World Cup for only the second time.
Friday's game was settled in the 44th minute as Ruiz's header ensured that England will be heading home early following a 2-1 loss to Uruguay on Thursday.
A below-par Italy now face the prospect of a mouth-watering showdown with Uruguay next Tuesday to determine who will be the other qualifier from Group D.
Costa Rica started brightly and came close after just six minutes when defender Celso Borges headed narrowly over the crossbar from a corner.
But, despite enjoying the better of the opening exchanges, they were unable to really test goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, who was restored to the starting XI after missing the 2-1 win over England due to an ankle injury.
Italy, perhaps hindered by the humidity at the Arena Pernambuco in Recife, struggled to create any opportunities of real note.
However, striker Mario Balotelli should have given the Azzurri the lead on the half-hour mark when he latched on to a superb ball from Andrea Pirlo, only to lift an effort over Keylor Navas and wide of the goal.
Balotelli showed greater composure when handed another opportunity just two minutes later, but the Milan talisman's volley was kept out by a strong Navas save.
Costa Rica remained a threat, though, and forced Buffon into action for the first time as the Juventus shot-stopper prevented midfielder Christian Bolanos' curler from finding the bottom corner.
And Pinto's men were aggrieved not to have been awarded a stone-wall penalty in the 43rd minute when Joel Campbell was barged over in the area by Giorgio Chiellini after the latter had given the ball away in midfield.
Thankfully, justice was served a minute later, as Ruiz met Junior Diaz's magnificent left-wing cross with an excellent far-post header that cannoned off the underside of the bar and over the line.
Cesare Prandelli's response to falling behind was a positive one as he brought on striker Antonio Cassano for midfielder Thiago Motta after the interval.
Italy dictated play from the restart with Navas twice drawn into acrobatic stops, first to tip over a long-range effort from defender Matteo Darmian and then to keep out a Pirlo free-kick.
But the opportunities soon dried up for Italy as they laboured to try and find a way through a determined and well-organised Costa Rica defence.
And, despite the introductions of Lorenzo Insigne and Alessio Cerci, the four-time world champions could not find a way through, with Costa Rica holding on for another famous result that ends England's slim hopes.
Match commentary - as it happened
90' + 4' FULL-TIME!
90' + 3' Italy's final attacks are upon us, but they look so drained and exhausted. The Costa Rican bench are ready to burst into celebration, but it's not over yet!
90' + 2' There are to be four minutes of added time.
90' Cerci's corner delivery isn't bad, but Cassano can only get a slight touch on the ball, diverting it wide of the target.
89' Late corner now for Italy on the right as Diaz does well to halt Cerci's advance, blocking his cross.
87' Time is running out for Italy - and England. Most of the Italian players are strolling about currently, but Costa Rica are still battling away and showing fantastic desire.
85' Italy are not playing with any urgency here. Perhaps they are just playing without feeling the need to panic, but they don't look like troubling Pinto's men.
83' Costa Rica almost sniff out a second as Urena latches on to a pass forward from the midfield. The Kuban forward runs at Chiellini and gets beyond him before shooting, but the Italian blocks his effort.
81' Substitution Bryan Ruiz sits for R. Brenes
78' Good play by Cerci as he skips past Diaz, but he was unable to get a cross in from the right. A few moments later, Abate tries his luck on the same flank, but the Costa Rica defender does much better and wins a goal kick.
76' Despite the departure of Campbell, Costa Rica still look a threat on the counter with Urena. Italy, meanwhile, are still struggling to break through their opponents, who do appear to have most of their players back in the defensive third.
74' Substitution Joel Campbell sits for M. Ureña
74' Off goes Campbell, who, although not quite as good as he was against Uruguay, had a good game. Urena, who netted in the previous game, replaces him.
73' Italy look so flat at the moment. Their creativity looks stifled and they appear incapable of breaking through the Costa Rican defence. They have plenty of crafty players on the pitch now, though.
71' Yellow Card José Miguel Cubero Loria
71' More wasteful play from Italy now, as Cassano tries to flick on a pass from the back, but his attempt is rather aimless and simply hooks the ball all the way through to Navas.
69' Substitution Claudio Marchisio sits for Alessio Cerci
69' Yellow Card Mario Balotelli
68' Substitution Y. TejedaJosé Miguel sits for Cubero Loria
66' Inisgne is the latest Italian to be called offside for failing to keep an eye on the Costa Rican defensive line. Prandelli is losing his patience.
64' Here come the "ole" chants again from the Costa Rica supporters. They are loving this, and understandably so. As it stands they will take charge of Group D, going top with six points.
62' Costa Rica's defence do appear to be significantly deeper than in the first half. Italy are struggling with that change, though. Balotelli is looking increasingly frustrated as Duarte & Co. continue to keep him under wraps.
60' That's a few instances now where Campbell has looked to get on the end of a long ball from the back before being flagged offside. Italy have struggled with his pace so far and you get the impression one of those moves will work eventually.
59' Italy may have improved since the break, but Costa Rica still look rather threatening themselves. They don't appear to be particularly fazed, either.
58' Lovely feet from Bolanos as the winger lures De Rossi into making a tackle out on the left. The Costa Rican shows good reactions to skip past the midfielder and he then wins a throw-in.
57' Substitution Antonio Candreva sits for Lorenzo Insigne
55' The Italians are looking far more lively so far in this second half. They are knocking the ball around with intent and also playing more positive passes into the attacking third.
53` Pirlo's free-kick is good as it gets up and over the wall, but Navas produces an acrobatic punching save to clear his lines.
52' Cheap foul conceded by Umana about 35 yards from goal, sending Cassano to the floor. Pirlo stands over the kick.
51' Good stop by Navas! Darmian, who has rarely got forward so far, finally gets into an advanced position down the left. He cuts inside and on to his right foot, before sending a powerful drive towards the goal. Navas tips it over, though.
50' Bolanos delivers the corner and the ball makes its way all the way through to the back post, but Tejeda is unable to keep is header on target.
49' More good play by Costa Rica down the left. Bolanos plays Diaz into the attacking third and although his first touch is not great, the wing-back wins a corner from Abata.
48' Balotelli wants a penalty after being taken down by Duarte in the area, but it would have been a harsh decision. Costa Rica try to spring a counterattack, but Campbell is nudged over.
47' Italy are straight on to the attack, meanwhile. Balotelli gets forward down the left and plays the ball against a defender and he wins a corner.
46' Substitution Thiago Motta sits for Antonio Cassano
45' + 1' HALF-TIME!
44' Assist Junior Díaz
44' GOAL!!! COSTA RICA TAKE THE LEAD! Diaz produces another truly fantastic cross from the left and Ruiz, who peeled away towards the back post, nods it in off the crossbar. Nothing less than what they deserve.
Costa Rica's forward Bryan Ruiz (R) heads the ball to score as Italy's goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon (2nd R) looks on during a Group D football match between Italy and Costa Rica at the Pernambuco Arena in Recife during the 2014 FIFA World Cup on June 20, 2014. Photo: Getty Images
43' COSTA RICA DENIED A PENALTY! Campbell does brilliantly after taking up possession and he runs straight at the Italian defence. The Arsenal forward darts between Chiellini and Barzagli, but the former bundles him over. That has to be a penalty, but it isn't given!
42' Buffon slaps away the Costa Rica corner, but they are quick to work the ball back into the danger zone. Ruiz plays a clever chipped pass back into the box and Duarte meets it with a header, but his attempt lands on top of the goal.
41' Important block by Chiellini there! Diaz's cross from the left is very good and invites Campbell to pounce, but the Italian defender makes an important block, conceding a corner in the process.
39' Decent play by Ruiz as he picks up the ball in a deep position, breezes past De Rossi and then fires from about 25 yards. Once again, though, the effort is tame and Buffon collects comfortably.
38' Italian have significantly improved in the last 10 or 15 minutes. Pirlo has really livened up and his passing has been exceptional. Costa Rica are struggling to keep him quiet.
36' Smart save by Buffon! Bolanos comes in off the left flank once again and after being given so much space by the Italian defence, he curls a shot towards the bottom-right corner. Buffon, however, gets down to palm it away.
35' We have another break in play now as Diaz and De Rossi clash together in the midfield, with both players rolling around in agony. The referee gives Italy a free-kick and the two players are soon up and about again.
33' BALOTELLI AGAIN! Pirlo is involved again, but this time his pass is flicked on by the head of Motta and Balotelli strikes it with a first-time volley from the edge of the box, hitting it straight at Navas.
31' HUGE MISS BY BALOTELLI! Pirlo plays an outrageous first-time pass from the halfway line, lifting the ball over the defence for Balotelli to chase down. The former Manchester City man get on the end of it and tries to loop the bouncing ball over Navas, but he inexplicably fails to hit the target.
30' Balotelli is not impressed with the referee at the moment. Tejeda produces a fine tackle on the Italian, leaving him rolling around in pain. However, once the ball is sportingly kicked out of play, he is up again very soon.
28' The Costa Rica fans are cheering "ole" every time they complete a pass and they do look quite inventive with the ball, but they haven't done an awful lot with it in the last 10 minutes or so.
27' Good move by the Italians. Pirlo, who has been quiet so far, plays an accurate pass into an advanced area for Balotelli. The Milan forward nods the ball down for Motta, who sends a half-volley wide of the bottom-left corner.
25' Poor decision from the assistant there. De Rossi plays a decent pass over the Costa Rica backline for Balotelli and he brings the ball down well, holding off Duarte in the process. However, he is incorrectly flagged offside.
23' The Milan star is involved in the play again. This time he latches on to a lofted ball down the right flank and a good show of pace sees him breach the penalty area. However, Balotelli's touch deserts him and Gonzalez makes a well-timed tackle, before earning a free-kick.
21' Balotelli finally comes to life in the attacking third as he slaloms between a couple of tackles, but he is quickly dispossessed by a defender. He has looked so isolated until now.
20' We have a brief pause in play now as Duarte fires in a powerful cross from the left and it strikes Chiellini right in the face, with the Italian then flopping to the floor. He does appear to be fine, though.
18' Nimble footwork from Campbell as he holds off Darmian and tricks his way into space, but his delivery into the area after cutting on to his left foot is poor and subsequently cleared by the first man.
17' Buffon is a little more convincing from this corner as he slaps the ball away, but he fails to catch the ball. Nevertheless, Italy clear the ball eventually.
16' Italy's start really has been poor. Marchisio is the latest to be found guilty of awful sloppiness. The midfielder plays a long-distance back-pass towards Buffon, but he gives his Juve team-mate no chance and concedes a corner.
14' Balotelli has hardly had a sniff so far. Chiellini looks to play the Milan star into the area with a long ball from the back, but it is way too far ahead of him and Gonzalez sees it back to Navas.
12' Sloppy play by Italy as Abate gets forward in an attempt to make the most of an advanced throw-in. However, he gets the ball and immediately knocks it straight out of play.
11' Costa Rica will be encouraged by their start so far. They've had the only real chance until now, and they appear very confident going forward. They'll need to be at their best to stop Balotelli & Co.
9' Italy are straight back down the other end, though. The rampaging Darmian wins a corner from Gonzalez down the left, but Balotelli commits a foul in the area after Pirlo's delivery.
8' BIG CHANCE! Ruiz's corner is fired into the area and Borges meets it with a powerful hader, but his effort flies over the crossbar. He should have done better there, with Buffon all at sea.
7' Good movement from Tejeda as he latches on to a pass from Bolanos in the left side of the Italy area. The angle becomes tight and Chiellini ultimately blocks the attempted cross. Corner for Costa Rica.
6' Duarte is lucky to escape a yellow card on this occasion as he cynically hauls Marchisio down just when Italy looked to be breaking forward. The referee has a word, but no card given.
5' Free-kick to Costa Rica on the left flank as Diaz shows clever feet after controlling the ball with his chest. He flicks the ball over Abate, drawing him into a foul and is sent tumbling.
4' Heavy touch from Diaz on the left allows Candreva to pounce. The midfield steals the ball and charges forward. He tries to pick Balotelli out with a pass, but Umana covers well and makes a good interception.
2' There is the match's first shot, but it is a rather tame effort. Ruiz and Borges put together a clever one-two towards the left, taking Motta out of the equation before slipping a pass to Bolanos. The FC Copenhagen man tried his luck from range, but the ball barely reaches Buffon.
1' We're off! Italy get the action started.
These two sides both emerged victorious from their respective opening matches, but in significantly different situations. Italy put in a professional display against England to win 2-1, with goals from Claudio Marchisio and Mario Balotelli enough to earn all three points. Costa Rica, meanwhile, stunned Uruguay to win 3-1. Few considered Jorge Luis Pinto's men to be much of a threat in Group D, but their free-flowing, counterattacking display attracted great praise, while Joel Campbell starred with a dynamic performance.
Costa Rica subs: Pemberton, Acosta, Myrie, Barrantes, Francis, Granados, Brenes, Miller, Calvo, Urena, Cubero, Cambronero.
Costa Rica (5-3-2): Navas; Gamboa, Duarte, Gonzalez, Umana, Diaz; Borges, Ruiz, Tejeda; Campbell, Bolanos.
Italy subs: Sirigu, Perrin, De Sciglio, Cassano, Cerci, Aquilani, Immobile, Parolo, Bonucci, Paletta, Insigne, Verratti.
Italy (4-1-4-1): Buffon; Abate, Barzagli, Chiellini, Darmian; De Rossi; Candreva, Pirlo, Motta, Marchisio; Balotelli.
Commentary & Report: Goal dot com