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Costa Rica draws England, claims top spot in Group D

Jul 10, 2014 - 1:21 AM Belo Horizonte, Brazil ( - Costa Rica claimed the top spot in Group D on Tuesday after holding England to a scoreless draw at the Estadio Mineirao.

Few had Costa Rica pegged to accomplish much in the "group of champions", but Los Ticos proved their mettle earlier in the tournament with wins over Uruguay and Italy in their first two group-stage matches.

Both sides created ample scoring chances over the course of Tuesday's 90 minutes, but the finishing was just a tad off as Costa Rica claimed the point it needed to win Group D.

Los Ticos will face the runner-up from Group C on Sunday, while England finished its group campaign with just one point and secured its worst-ever World Cup placing.

"It was an even game today against an opponent who was looking for its first win. I'm delighted we've topped the group. We are prepared to face whoever comes and we will face them with great confidence," Costa Rica coach Jorge Luis Pinto said. "Our potential rivals from Group D will be difficult as they're experienced, but we'll approach them as we have been doing. We're a well-balanced team with good tactics. It's great to come to a country like Brazil where football is played and be so good in possession."

Despite going out of the tournament after just two matches, Roy Hodgson's side was hoping to save some face with a win in their final match in Brazil, and the Three Lions had the better of the play early on.

Liverpool man Daniel Sturridge had the first clear-cut opportunity with a strike from the top of the penalty area in the 12th minute, but the strike flew wide of the Keylor Navas' right post.

Sturridge created most of the scoring chances for England in the first half and had a second chance in the 18th and a third in the 27th as a cross fell to his feet in front of goal, but Navas was out quickly to collect the ball.

Ten minutes before the break it was Sturridge again with a chance off a corner kick, but his header sailed over the crossbar.

In the second half, Los Ticos created a fair amount of chances to break the deadlock, with the best opportunity coming in the 63rd minute as Cristian Bolanos ripped a strike on goal from distance but it was parried away by England goalkeeper Ben Foster.

England pushed forward for most of the second 45 minutes looking for a winner as just a few moments after Bolanos' attempt, Sturridge and Jack Wilshere worked a nice one-two to send Sturridge through on goal, but the strike with his favored left foot was inches wide of the far post.

The fourth official's board showed only a couple minutes of stoppage time and the Three Lions were unable to fashion a winner to bow out of the World Cup without a win and just one point.

"Apart from first the 10 to 12 minutes we dominated totally. We didn't take our goal chances - if we did we would have comfortably won," Hodgson said. "We created the chances and that's important. I'm not concerned about Daniel Sturridge, he'll take goal chances in the future. I thought we were really unlucky not to win this game. I thought the whole back four was absolutely excellent. We restricted the team to almost no chances. In midfield we dominated and outplayed them."