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Costa Rica, Italy battle for Group D control

Jul 10, 2014 - 1:15 AM Recife, Brazil ( - Italy and Costa Rica will battle for control of Group D on Friday when the sides meet at the Arena Pernambuco.

Both nations earned crucial victories in their opening matches, with the Costa Ricans pulling off perhaps the most shocking result of the opening round with a 3-1 win over Uruguay, while Italy topped England by a 2-1 score at Arena Amazonia in Manaus.

Costa Rica wasn't pegged to do much in a difficult group, and Uruguay did take the early lead last Saturday through a penalty conversion from Edinson Cavani.

But Los Ticos seized control of the match in the second half and equalized in the 54th minute when Joel Campbell collected a square pass and ripped it past Uruguay goalkeeper Fernando Muslera.

Just three minutes later Costa Rica took the lead when Oscar Duarte got on the end of a free kick at the back post and nodded it just inside Muslera's far post.

Campbell continued his virtuoso performance by setting up Costa Rica's third of the match, unlocking the Uruguayan defense with a well-weighted through ball that allowed Urena to slip a shot past the on-rushing Muslera.

Despite few giving the Costa Ricans a chance against Uruguay, Campbell wasn't surprised at the result.

"It wasn't a surprise for us. We came here to win," Campbell said. "We wanted the points and we went for them. We've still got two big games to come against two big sides and we hope to put in big performances against them. I'm going to have a son soon, which is why I celebrated my goal the way I did. Celebrating his arrival with a World Cup goal is the best thing that can happen to me."

Italy will aim for a repeat performance of their pragmatic result over England, in which the experienced Italian side showed a knack for conserving energy against a youthful England side.

Claudio Marchisio opened the scoring with a thunderbolt from the top of the box in the 35th minute, but the Three Lions were level just minutes later as Wayne Rooney sent a driven ball across the face of goal for Daniel Sturridge to fire home.

Mario Balotelli netted the winner in the second half when he got in behind England defender Gary Cahill and nodded home a cross from Antonio Candreva.

From that point on, Italy executed a clinic of how to close out a match, sitting back and allowing England to keep possession without handing the Three Lions many quality chances.

"Our approach was clear: we don't have explosive players like England do. With that in mind, our aim was to make the most of our technical ability," Italy coach Cesare Prandelli said. "In the first half we had control of the game and on several occasions were able to get the ball to our attacking players between the two defensive lines. Of course we have good alternatives that can help us change our way of playing but, in general, that's our philosophy."