Fans of Uruguay’s national soccer team hug each other as they watch World Cup match between Costa Rica and Uruguay in downtown in Montevideo, Uruguay, on Saturday.
FORTALEZA, Brazil — Watching from the bench, Luis Suarez saw just how much his teammates miss him.
Uruguay was overrun 3-1 Saturday by Group D underdog Costa Rica at the World Cup, a stunning result for the team that reached the semifinals four years ago and had every reason to think it could repeat that in Brazil.
Even with Suarez staying on the bench for the entire game after failing to fully recover from knee surgery, coach Oscar Tabarez fielded a side that included eight players from the 2010 team. But after going ahead through a first-half penalty, Uruguay was taken apart on counterattacks as Costa Rica scored three times in the second half to open Group D with a major upset.
“We made mistakes today that we haven’t made for a long time. It’s too early to explain this,” Tabarez said. “Football means that sometimes you have to lose. You can’t lose heart, you just have to improve.”
The Uruguayans took the lead in the 24th minute when Edinson Cavani converted a spot kick that was awarded after captain Diego Lugano tumbled to the ground with defender Junior Diaz tugging at his waist.
But after the goal, Uruguay lost the initiative and Costa Rica seen as a massive underdog in a group that also includes England and Italy fought back after the break.
Costa Rica’s lone striker Joel Campbell led most of the team’s counterattacks and finally delivered the equalizer in the 54th, driving in a ball headed down by Celso Borges to beat goalkeeper Fernando Muslera.
Oscar Duarte dived past the outstretched foot of Uruguay’s Cristian Stuani to head in the winner for the Central Americans, and substitute Marcos Urena added the third with six minutes left, catching out Muslera to slot the ball in from a tight angle.
“We spotted that they had weaknesses and we looked at those. We worked hard on headers and ways to dominate in the air and we did that tonight,” Costa Rica coach Jorge Luis Pinto said.
The disastrous night in injury time when Maxi Pereira was sent off for a clumsy foul on Campbell.
Pereira will be suspended from the next game against England, while Tabarez said Suarez’s participation for next Thursday’s match in Sao Paolo is also uncertain.
Diego Forlan, the player of the tournament in 2010, took Suarez’s place in attack. But in Fortaleza, the 35-year-old forward only displayed a single flash of his former greatness: Curling a deadly ball toward the Costa Rican a minute before halftime, in an effort punched out by in-form keeper Keylor Navas.
Forlan was eventually substituted on the hour for Nicolas Lodeiro.
Even without Suarez, the team doesn’t need a tactical overhaul to bounce back from the defeat, Tabarez said.
“We’ve being playing this way for eight years. I don’t see why we should do anything different right know,” he said. “It worked in South Africa and after that. Defense is not a dirty word.”
Pinto, the Costa Rica coach, was less philosophical.
“What counted is that we stayed calm and kept creating opportunities against a very tough team,” Pinto said. “We have great respect for Uruguay but we weren’t that impressed tonight.”
Uruguay: Fernando Muslera, Diego Lugano, Diego Godin, Walter Gargano (Alvaro Gonzalez, 60), Cristian Rodriguez, Diego Forlan (Nicolas Lodeiro, 60), Cristian Stuani, Maxi Pereira, Egidio Arevalo, Edinson Cavani, Martin Caceres.
Costa Rica: Keylor Navas, Giancarlo Gonzalez, Michael Umana, Celso Birges, Oscar Duarte, Christian Bolanos (Michael Barrantes, 89), Joel Campbell, Bryan Ruiz (Marcos Urena, 82), Junior Diaz, Cristian Gamboa, Yeltsin Tejeda (Jose Cubero, 74).
Colombia 3, Greece 0
BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil — Colombia started its first World Cup campaign in 16 years in dazzling fashion, beating Greece 3-0 to open Group C on Saturday in front of a big, loud pro-Colombian crowd.
Left back Pablo Armero opened the scoring in the fifth minute when his deflected shot rolled past Greece goalkeeper Orestis Karnezis. Striker Teofilo Gutierrez poked in Colombia’s second goal from a deflected corner in the 58th and James Rodriguez capped it off with a low shot in stoppage time after a slick backheel flick from Juan Cuadrado.
Colombia’s pace and trickery were too much for Greece to handle in the latter stages as the 57,174 crowd, most dressed in bright yellow shirts, constantly chanted “Ole, ole” at Estadio Mineriao.
“It was a good debut with players who had never played a World Cup. It’s a big satisfaction,” Colombia coach Jose Pekerman said. “This is how we planned this match. Some things turned out the way we wanted, some things didn’t, but we were very focused and showed that we’re here to play a good World Cup.”
Rodriguez said the result showed Colombia was on the right path.
“It’s a good start, but we have to be calm for what’s ahead, which will be even more difficult,” he said, looking ahead at Group C matches against Ivory Coast and Japan.
Greece had the majority of possession with 54 percent, but whenever Colombia players got hold of the ball, they blazed down the flanks and through the middle of the pitch, disorientating their opponents.
The Greeks had a chance to pull a goal back after Gutierrez scored, but an unmarked Georgios Samaras rattled the crossbar from two yards out.
There were other chances, too. Panagiotis Kone’s shot went just wide in the first half. Colombia goalkeeper David Ospina then made an outstanding reaction save to deny Kone just before halftime.
“You can’t make excuses when you lose 3-0,” Greece coach Fernando Santos said. “We had good spells of play and all we can do now is look at the next matches.”
Kone said Greece didn’t make the most of its possession and the chances it created.
“The score doesn’t show it, but I think we played well,” he said. “But these games are turned on the details, and they didn’t work for us today. We’re still proud to be here, and we’ll continue to play hard.”
Greece defenders started getting frustrated with Colombia’s pace in the second half and began to foul the South Americans, with two players picked up yellow cards within minutes.
The result will give Colombia confidence that it can win competitive matches without star striker Radamel Falcao, who was ruled out after failing to recover from a serious knee injury. The other Group C teams, Ivory Coast and Japan, were playing later Saturday.
Greece will now have to regroup ahead of its second match against Japan after its notoriously solid defense leaked three goals.
Italy 2, England 1
MANAUS, Brazil — Mario Balotelli scored with a second-half header Saturday to give Italy a 2-1 win over England at the World Cup.
The Italy striker was left free by his marker Gary Cahill and nodded a cross from Antonio Candreva past goalkeeper Joe Hart in the 50th minute.
Claudio Marchisio scored first for Italy, sending a long shot through a crowded area and past a diving Hart in the 35th. Daniel Sturridge equalized for England two minutes later, tapping in a cross from Wayne Rooney.
The win puts Italy in a strong position to qualify for the second round, and leaves England with plenty to do in its remaining two matches.
In the other Group D match, Costa Rica beat Uruguay 3-1, giving the 2010 semifinalists a similarly difficult task to advance.
Balotelli nearly scored another in first-half injury time, running deep into the area and enticing Hart to come off his line. The Italy striker stopped, looked toward goal and sent a chip over the keeper’s head — only for Phil Jagielka to clear by heading the ball over the bar.
England’s attack-minded lineup made frequent runs into the Italy area throughout the match, and came close to scoring several times.
The best of the chances came in the 24th when Danny Welbeck sent the ball across the front of goal but Andrea Barzagli was able to slide in and tip the ball up in the air. Raheem Sterling, who had been running in from the left, jumped for the header but couldn’t reach it, letting the ball go past him as he tumbled into the net.
Italy played without the injured Gianluigi Buffon. The 36-year-old Italy goalkeeper, who can play in his fourth World Cup if he is able to recover from an ankle problem, was replaced by Salvatore Sirigu.
The PSG keeper stepped up and made several good saves, but the best may have come in the 77th when he dived to his left to block a free kick from Leighton Baines.
The match was played in the Amazonian city of Manaus, the most exotic of the 12 World Cup venues for this year’s tournament. According to FIFA, it was 30 degrees C (86 degrees F) with humidity at a relatively low 61 percent for the match.
While none of the players appeared to be affected by the heat, there was an injury on the England bench when team physio Gary Lewin dislocated his ankle while celebrating Sturridge’s goal.
England and Italy were playing each other at the World Cup for only the second time. They also met in the third-place match at the 1990 World Cup, with the Italians also winning 2-1.MORE IN Sports Wire
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