Seen as the underdog in Group D of the World Cup, Costa Rica surprised even the staunchest believer and ended the group phase in first place in the Group, with two triumphs (over Uruguay and England, none less) and a draw today (24 June) against England at the Mineirão stadium in Belo Horizonte.
The Central Americans ended their participation in the Group phase with seven points, leading ahead of Uruguay with six. Italy's three points came from its only win against England, which in turn scored its only point in three matches today against Costa Rica. As a result, the two world champions say their farewell to the tournament and are going back home early.
In the round of sixteen, Costa Rica will face the runners-up in Group C, which includes Colombia, Ivory Coast, Japan and Greece.
With Prince Harry (picture) in attendance at the Mineirão, the British were after a dignified farewell after two defeats in the World Cup. “I think we'll get a 4-0 in this last match" was the bet by Londoner Wayne Smith, who came to Brazil with his friend Samuel Achon. He said the fun he had overcame the disappointment with the team, despite complains of the public toilets in cities.
For the Costa Ricans, already qualified, the draw and the first place in the group were enough reason to ensure lots of celebration. Even before kickoff, fans were shouting and singing in the vicinity of the stadium. “We did not expect such a good campaign, but now we want to go even further. Our national team is playing very well. I think we can dream," said Alan Meza, who left the city of Cartago to follow the World Cup live for the first time. “I've been to Recife, Natal, Pipa Beach, Rio de Janeiro and now Belo Horizonte. I liked them all, but my favorites were Natal and Rio. They are gorgeous," he added.
With many Brazilians at the Mineirão, the atmosphere was lively and cheerful at the stands. Liveliest of all, Costa Ricans began making more noise, shouting encouragement to their national team and applauding as the players entered the pitch. The British fans rose to the challenge during the course of the match, however, despite Brazilian fans and their taunts of Eliminado (eliminated). In the second half, when the England team attacked to the side where British fans were amassed, support was even greater. The English sang songs until the end of the match and heartily applauded their players, who made a point of thanking their fans for the support.