A searing afternoon in Brazil has produced a touchy game between Costa Rica and Italy, two nations dueling for Group D supremacy on Friday afternoon.
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Goals (and how they happened):
44′ – Moments after a probable-but-ungiven penalty, Bryan Ruiz heads past Gianluigi Buffon off a gorgeous cross from Junior Diaz. It was a simply marvelous finish from Los Ticos captain.
Other key moments:
25′ – Mario Balotelli continues to tempt the linesman with offside runs, and nearly each time the flag goes up. The athletic AC Milan striker seems anxious, but there’s no denying his pace is electric.
27′ – Thiago Motta finds a rare bit of space after a knock down Balotelli, but his low shot was pushed well wide.
31′ – A gorgeous Andrea Pirlo long ball from inside in his own half springs Balotelli in on goal, but the striker pops the ball wide of the goal. Should’ve been 1-0.
33′ – Surely Balotelli will break through before this is done if Costa Rica keeps letting him get in scoring position. This hard snap shot was parried by Navas.
36′ – Bolanos tries Buffon from distance, but the 36-year-old marvel pushes the ball away from harm. It’s Costa Rica’s best try in many minutes.
Italy – Buffon; Abate, Barzagli, Chiellini, Darmian; De Rossi; Candreva, Pirlo, Thiago Motta, Marchisio; Balotelli
Costa Rica – Navas, Gonzalez, Omana, Burgas, Duarte, Bolanos, Ruiz Diaz, Gamboa, Tejada, Campbell
Question for the second half:
- Will Costa Rica be able to hold down Pirlo and Balotelli (and can they spring a counter for goal No. 2)? – The Italian pair has done everything but produce a goal, and now they’ll need to do it at least once to tie and twice to win?