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Remembering Costa Rica’s incredible 2014 World Cup run at England’s expense

The 28th-ranked nation stunned almost everyone in Brazil

Who are ya?

That’s what I was singing at my TV when England took on Costa Rica in their final group game in Brazil 2014.

Little did I realise that in fact it was England that would be going home after that game and the central American side that were the tournament’s dark horses.


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You’ve drawn 0-0 to Costa Rica lads

Reuters
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You’ve drawn 0-0 to Costa Rica lads

Their team was full of mavericks and cult heroes that took the rankings guide and tore it to pieces.

Costa Rica arrived in Brazil as the 28th-ranked nation in a group with Uruguay (7), Italy (9) and England (10), but did that stop them? Not a chance.

With an erratic but exciting Keylor Navas between the sticks, all-time topscorer Bryan Ruiz leading the line and former Arsenal speedster Joel Campbell burning down the wing they gave the big boys in Group D a real shock.

We can say it should have been us England fans, but should it have? Really?

Think that pretty much sums up England’s tournament

News Group Newspapers Ltd
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Think that pretty much sums up England’s tournament

The group stage

England knew they had to get a result from their first two games with an *easy* final fixture against Costa Rica.

However a couple of hours before Daniel Sturridge scored against the Italians, Costa Rica pulled off a brilliant 3-1 win over Uruguay to blow Group D wide open.

And put themselves top going into matchday 2.

Arsenal fans instantly start calling Campbell the next Ronaldo

AP:Associated Press
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Arsenal fans instantly start calling Campbell the next Ronaldo

This is where it really started to get sticky for England and Roy Hodgson – lose to Uruguay and that would be pretty much that.

Sadly Hodgson could do nothing as two goals from a bitey Luis Suarez sent us back home after just 180 minutes of football.

Let’s pray it’s different in Russia.

But what’s that? Costa Rica set the cat among the pigeons and made the world sit up as Bryan Ruiz headed past Gianluigi Buffon to give them a narrow win over the Italians.

Ruiz doesn’t care who your defenders are

AFP
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Ruiz doesn’t care who your defenders are

By the final group game; to everyone’s surprise Costa Rica were already qualified and England were playing for whatever pride they had left.

Meanwhile it was left to a straight shootout between Italy and Uruguay, winner goes through, loser goes home.

But Costa Rica weren’t finished, a draw was enough to guarantee them top spot and the 0-0 in this game was enough.

Despite it being one of the worst World Cup games in living memory.

Uruguay v Italy was a pretty uneventful 1-0 victory for the South Americans to send them through… oh yes, except for Suarez biting Giorgio Chiellini.

Still can’t believe that happened

AFP
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Still can’t believe that happened

The last 16

Right, now it was down to the serious business of the knockout rounds.

Costa Rica had already wildly surpassed everyone’s expectations (especially England’s) by topping their group and in doing so were handed a favourable draw for the last 16.

Greece had conjured some of their 2004 Euro-winning spirit to finish second in Group C ahead of Ivory Coast by beating them 2-1 in the final game.

Two proper strikers

EPA
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Two proper strikers

After Ruiz scored another World Cup goal to put his country ahead, the fans thought they were heading to the quarters until Sokratis Papastathopoulos’ injury time equaliser.

Extra-time passed with little incident and then it came down to the dreaded penalty shootout.

The Ticos knew they could make history by reaching the World Cup quarters for the first time ever if they overcame the Greeks.

All nine penalty takers scored until Navas wrote his name into Costa Rican history by saving the 10th penalty and allowing Michael Umana to step up and send them into new territory.

We always knew Navas was a world beater

USA Today
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We always knew Navas was a world beater

The Quarter Final

This was uncharted territory for the plucky nation of under five million people.

They were up against football heavyweights Holland for a place in the World Cup semi final.

But again their organisation and energy managed the keep the Oranje out for another 120 minutes.

The only man that could stop Costa Rica, Louis Van Gaal

EPA
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The only man that could stop Costa Rica, Louis Van Gaal

Although Wesley Sneijder hit the post twice and Robin van Persie smashed one off the bar.

Penalties were imminent but not before Louis Van Gaal pulled of a managerial masterstroke.

He subbed on goalkeeper Tim Krul in added time after 120 minutes and he saved two Costa Rican penalties to dump them out.

Pandemonium for Holland, heartbreak for Costa Rica.

Ah well, at least you know that Holland would have beaten England on penalties too.


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