Costa Rica will have to build on their success

Costa Rica will have to build on their success

Costa Rica will have to build on their success

Costa Rica's strikers will need to deliver on the glimpses of brilliance they showed in the group stage if they are to build on a superb World Cup showing, which ended in the quarterfinals with a 4-3 defeat on penalties by the Netherlands.

Having faced Uruguay, Italy, England, Greece and the Dutch, the Costa Ricans remained unbeaten in normal or extra time in Brazil, but for all their defensive prowess, it was ultimately a lack of firepower that ended their storming run.

Unheralded before the tournament, they opened their campaign with a shock three-goal salvo against Uruguay as the Ticos and striker Joel Campbell, in particular, announced their arrival as a force to be reckoned with.

It was to prove a false dawn. Campbell failed to find the net again for the rest of the tournament as Costa Rica took a more cautious approach, seeking to build on those three points to qualify for the knockout stage.

With Campbell misfiring, it fell to Bryan Ruiz to net the goal in a famous 1-0 win that secured qualification from Group D against Italy, who were on the receiving end of the kind of disciplined defensive performance the Azzurri have so often meted out to others.

But a dour 0-0 draw against England was a portent of things to come for Campbell and Ruiz. With one eye on the last 16, coach Jorge Luis Pinto took a safety-first approach and creativity went out the window as he offered Christian Bolanos a well-earned rest.

With group victory assured by the point against England, the Ticos managed just four more shots on target in their final three games at the World Cup, with just a single effort each against Greece and Netherlands.

Ruiz tantalisingly stroked home one of them to give his side the lead against Greece, but whatever attacking intent there was disappeared when Oscar Duarte was sent off just after the hour mark.

Having got out of jail against the Greeks, Pinto persisted with the ultra-defensive tactics when faced with the attacking might of Louis van Gaal's Dutch side.

Powerful in the air and with a stinging shot from distance, midfielder Celso Borges found his defensive duties curtailing his ability to get forward.

Having literally kept them in the tournament single-handedly with his shootout save against Greece, goalkeeper Keylor Navas was unable to save his side one last time.

Costa Rica became the 28th side eliminated from the World Cup, leaving many fans to wonder what might have been if Campbell or Ruiz had been able to find the net just once more during their unlikely Brazilian adventure.

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