The team who knocked apart two former world champions and drew with another have all the momentum going into this first knockout tie against Greece.
Costa Rica turned round a flaccid first half against Uruguay, and never looked back. The packed back five conceded just one goal in the group stage – and that was a penalty.
Discipline, detail and versatility: coach Jorge Luis Pinto has instilled in this intelligent team the traits needed to perform on the biggest stage. They responded well to the early threat of Uruguay before exhausting Italy’s normally dictatorial midfield in Recife. Come the final game, Costa Rica coasted while England looked punch-drunk.
Greece come in for plenty of stick at international tournaments, and, yes, their safety-first approach goes against the grain of this attack-minded festival. They waited until their final game to score their first goals of the World Cup, but that match against the Ivory Coast did prove they can be ambitious when called upon.
Their injury-time penalty was ample reward for their liberated performance, dramatically lifting them from bottom to second in the sweep of a Georgios Samaras right boot. They head to the knockouts with little fanfare – just like Euro 2004.