Saturday, 21 June 2014 - 11:19
How Costa Rica's 'bulls' shocked the world-Video


Italy 0-1 Costa Rica

The world may have doubted Costa Rica, but Costa Rica never doubted themselves.

As their players embraced, danced in front of their fans and grabbed banners thrown from the stands, it was hard not to reflect on something manager Jorge Luis Pinto had said about being drawn in a group with three previous World Cup winners.

"We love the group. The braver the bull, the better the bullfight."

True to his word, there has been a fearlessness about Costa Rica - a belief that anything is possible and reputations mean nothing.

 And now, the team who were seen as the 'whipping boys' are in the last 16 - and two former world champions will be out.

That no-one questions Pinto's side are thoroughly deserving of their place there is testament to the vibrancy of their performances.

While England's exit will dominate the agenda, this was a World Cup fairytale in the making at Arena Pernambuco.

The faces of the players after the deserved 1-0 victory over Italy told a story. There was pure joy, total disbelief and, above all, excitement at what they had achieved and what lies ahead.

Pinto lifted his players into the air one after the other. Then he stood still with his arms wide open, taking it all in, capturing a moment he will never forget.

It was a scene of total joy for the players - and for thousands of Costa Rica fans who had travelled to Recife. For much of the second half, great swathes of the stadium, decked in red, blue and white shirts, chanted "si, se puede", Spanish for "yes, we can".

By the time Italy manager Cesare Prandelli arrived for his post-match news conference, they could still be heard. If Prandelli was asking himself how Costa Rica had done it, he was not alone.

 Before the tournament, there had been a confidence within Costa Rican football this was the most talented squad they had assembled for a World Cup.

In 2002 and 2006, only three players in the squad played outside Costa Rica. This time 14 players are based overseas, 11 in Europe. But that optimism was undermined by injuries to Bryan Oviedo and Alvaro Saborio.

Pinto, however, always believed he had a squad that could be more than the sum of their parts. This was his second spell as manager; the first ended in a sacking.

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