Costa Rica secured top spot in FIFA World Cup Group D courtesy of a drab 0-0 draw with already-eliminated England on Tuesday.
Jorge Luis Pinto’s team thrilled with skill and ambition in shock wins over Uruguay and Italy that secured their passage to the last 16.
The pre-tournament outsiders found themselves in the unexpected position of being able to leave plenty in the tank in Belo Horizonte – an admirable achievement that did not make for an engaging spectacle.
Celso Borges had a first-half free-kick touched against the crossbar, while the bulk of England’s chances fell to Daniel Sturridge – one of only two survivors from the line-up that lost the opening two matches.
The Liverpool striker found the prolific streak he displayed in the Premier League last season to have deserted him, and Roy Hodgson’s team could take little from the contest aside from avoiding the ignominy of losing all three World Cup round-robin games for the first time in their history.
Uruguay’s 1-0 win in a similarly scrappy encounter against Italy in Natal ensured that Group D claimed the scalps of two European teams.
Joel Campbell saw a speculative second-minute effort deflect wide and Costa Rica’s control of the opening exchanges underlined the gulf in confidence between the two teams.