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Costa Rica keeps inspiring World Cup run going; England out

  • An Italy soccer fan watches his team's World Cup match with Costa Rica inside the FIFA Fan Fest area in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Friday, June 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Nelson Antoine)

    An Italy soccer fan watches his team's World Cup match with Costa Rica inside the FIFA Fan Fest area in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Friday, June 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Nelson Antoine)

  • Costa Rica players celebrate after winning the group D World Cup soccer match between Italy and Costa Rica at the Arena Pernambuco in Recife, Brazil, Friday, June 20, 2014. Costa Rica beat four-time champion Italy 1-0 to secure a spot in the next round. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

    Costa Rica players celebrate after winning the group D World Cup soccer match between Italy and Costa Rica at the Arena Pernambuco in Recife, Brazil, Friday, June 20, 2014. Costa Rica beat four-time champion Italy 1-0 to secure a spot in the next round. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

  • Costa Rica's Bryan Ruiz heads the ball to score his side's first goal over Italy's goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon during the group D World Cup soccer match between Italy and Costa Rica at the Arena Pernambuco in Recife, Brazil, Friday, June 20, 2014.(AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

    Costa Rica's Bryan Ruiz heads the ball to score his side's first goal over Italy's goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon during the group D World Cup soccer match between Italy and Costa Rica at the Arena Pernambuco in Recife, Brazil, Friday, June 20, 2014.(AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

  • Ivory Coast's Yaya Toure, left, pushes off Colombia's Carlos Sanchez Moreno to get to the ball during the group C World Cup soccer match between Colombia and Ivory Coast at the Estadio Nacional in Brasilia, Brazil, Thursday, June 19, 2014.  (AP Photo/Martin Mejia)

    Ivory Coast's Yaya Toure, left, pushes off Colombia's Carlos Sanchez Moreno to get to the ball during the group C World Cup soccer match between Colombia and Ivory Coast at the Estadio Nacional in Brasilia, Brazil, Thursday, June 19, 2014. (AP Photo/Martin Mejia)

  • Costa Rica's head coach Jorge Luis Pinto celebrates after winning the group D World Cup soccer match between Italy and Costa Rica at the Arena Pernambuco in Recife, Brazil, Friday, June 20, 2014. Costa Rica beat four-time champion Italy 1-0 to secure a spot in the next round. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

    Costa Rica's head coach Jorge Luis Pinto celebrates after winning the group D World Cup soccer match between Italy and Costa Rica at the Arena Pernambuco in Recife, Brazil, Friday, June 20, 2014. Costa Rica beat four-time champion Italy 1-0 to secure a spot in the next round. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

  • Costa Rica soccer fans celebrate after their team's World Cup victory over Italy in San Jose, Costa Rica, Friday, June 20, 2014. Costa Rica won 1-0. The sign reads in Spanish "More Italian summers!" (AP Photo/Enrique Martinez)

    Costa Rica soccer fans celebrate after their team's World Cup victory over Italy in San Jose, Costa Rica, Friday, June 20, 2014. Costa Rica won 1-0. The sign reads in Spanish "More Italian summers!" (AP Photo/Enrique Martinez)

  • Pope Francis celebrates a mass outside  St. John at the Lateran Basilica to mark the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ, in Rome, Thursday, June 19, 2014. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

    Pope Francis celebrates a mass outside St. John at the Lateran Basilica to mark the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ, in Rome, Thursday, June 19, 2014. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

  • An Italian soccer fan snorts as she watches on a giant screen a World Cup soccer match between Italy and Costa Rica, in Rome, Friday, June 20, 2014.  Costa Rica won 1-0. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

    An Italian soccer fan snorts as she watches on a giant screen a World Cup soccer match between Italy and Costa Rica, in Rome, Friday, June 20, 2014. Costa Rica won 1-0. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

  • France's Mathieu Valbuena, right, celebrates scoring his side's third goal past Switzerland's goalkeeper Diego Benaglio during the group E World Cup soccer match between Switzerland and France at the Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador, Brazil, Friday, June 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

    France's Mathieu Valbuena, right, celebrates scoring his side's third goal past Switzerland's goalkeeper Diego Benaglio during the group E World Cup soccer match between Switzerland and France at the Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador, Brazil, Friday, June 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

  • France's Blaise Matuidi celebrates scoring his side's second goal during the group E World Cup soccer match between Switzerland and France at the Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador, Brazil, Friday, June 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

    France's Blaise Matuidi celebrates scoring his side's second goal during the group E World Cup soccer match between Switzerland and France at the Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador, Brazil, Friday, June 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

  • French soccer fans in costume run with a large replica of the World Cup trophy as they arrive to Arena Fonte Nova for their team's World Cup match with Switzerland in Salvador, Brazil, Friday, June 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

    French soccer fans in costume run with a large replica of the World Cup trophy as they arrive to Arena Fonte Nova for their team's World Cup match with Switzerland in Salvador, Brazil, Friday, June 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

  • French soccer supporters react as they watch a live broadcast of the group E World Cup soccer match between Switzerland and France, at the Metro 14th District bar in Paris, France, Friday, June 20, 2014. The match ended in a 5-2 win for France. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

    French soccer supporters react as they watch a live broadcast of the group E World Cup soccer match between Switzerland and France, at the Metro 14th District bar in Paris, France, Friday, June 20, 2014. The match ended in a 5-2 win for France. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

  • French players celebrate after the group E World Cup soccer match between Switzerland and France at the Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador, Brazil, Friday, June 20, 2014.  The match ended in a 5-2 win for France. (AP Photo/David Vincent)

    French players celebrate after the group E World Cup soccer match between Switzerland and France at the Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador, Brazil, Friday, June 20, 2014. The match ended in a 5-2 win for France. (AP Photo/David Vincent)

  • France's Mamadou Sakho, center, blocks a shot by Switzerland's Xherdan Shaqiri during the group E World Cup soccer match between Switzerland and France at the Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador, Brazil, Friday, June 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

    France's Mamadou Sakho, center, blocks a shot by Switzerland's Xherdan Shaqiri during the group E World Cup soccer match between Switzerland and France at the Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador, Brazil, Friday, June 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

  • French soccer supporters react after the first goal as they watch a live broadcast of the group E World Cup soccer match between Switzerland and France, in the Metro 14th District bar in Paris, France, Friday, June 20, 2014. The match ended in a 5-2 win for France. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

    French soccer supporters react after the first goal as they watch a live broadcast of the group E World Cup soccer match between Switzerland and France, in the Metro 14th District bar in Paris, France, Friday, June 20, 2014. The match ended in a 5-2 win for France. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

  • An Italy soccer fan watches his team's World Cup match with Costa Rica inside the FIFA Fan Fest area in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Friday, June 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Nelson Antoine)
  • Costa Rica players celebrate after winning the group D World Cup soccer match between Italy and Costa Rica at the Arena Pernambuco in Recife, Brazil, Friday, June 20, 2014. Costa Rica beat four-time champion Italy 1-0 to secure a spot in the next round. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
  • Costa Rica's Bryan Ruiz heads the ball to score his side's first goal over Italy's goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon during the group D World Cup soccer match between Italy and Costa Rica at the Arena Pernambuco in Recife, Brazil, Friday, June 20, 2014.(AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
  • Ivory Coast's Yaya Toure, left, pushes off Colombia's Carlos Sanchez Moreno to get to the ball during the group C World Cup soccer match between Colombia and Ivory Coast at the Estadio Nacional in Brasilia, Brazil, Thursday, June 19, 2014.  (AP Photo/Martin Mejia)
  • Costa Rica's head coach Jorge Luis Pinto celebrates after winning the group D World Cup soccer match between Italy and Costa Rica at the Arena Pernambuco in Recife, Brazil, Friday, June 20, 2014. Costa Rica beat four-time champion Italy 1-0 to secure a spot in the next round. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
  • Costa Rica soccer fans celebrate after their team's World Cup victory over Italy in San Jose, Costa Rica, Friday, June 20, 2014. Costa Rica won 1-0. The sign reads in Spanish "More Italian summers!" (AP Photo/Enrique Martinez)
  • Pope Francis celebrates a mass outside  St. John at the Lateran Basilica to mark the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ, in Rome, Thursday, June 19, 2014. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
  • An Italian soccer fan snorts as she watches on a giant screen a World Cup soccer match between Italy and Costa Rica, in Rome, Friday, June 20, 2014.  Costa Rica won 1-0. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
  • France's Mathieu Valbuena, right, celebrates scoring his side's third goal past Switzerland's goalkeeper Diego Benaglio during the group E World Cup soccer match between Switzerland and France at the Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador, Brazil, Friday, June 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
  • France's Blaise Matuidi celebrates scoring his side's second goal during the group E World Cup soccer match between Switzerland and France at the Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador, Brazil, Friday, June 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
  • French soccer fans in costume run with a large replica of the World Cup trophy as they arrive to Arena Fonte Nova for their team's World Cup match with Switzerland in Salvador, Brazil, Friday, June 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
  • French soccer supporters react as they watch a live broadcast of the group E World Cup soccer match between Switzerland and France, at the Metro 14th District bar in Paris, France, Friday, June 20, 2014. The match ended in a 5-2 win for France. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
  • French players celebrate after the group E World Cup soccer match between Switzerland and France at the Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador, Brazil, Friday, June 20, 2014.  The match ended in a 5-2 win for France. (AP Photo/David Vincent)
  • France's Mamadou Sakho, center, blocks a shot by Switzerland's Xherdan Shaqiri during the group E World Cup soccer match between Switzerland and France at the Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador, Brazil, Friday, June 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
  • French soccer supporters react after the first goal as they watch a live broadcast of the group E World Cup soccer match between Switzerland and France, in the Metro 14th District bar in Paris, France, Friday, June 20, 2014. The match ended in a 5-2 win for France. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

RIO DE JANEIRO – The World Cup of surprises is turning into a sweet samba party for teams from the Americas.

Having already stunned one former world champion, little Costa Rica shocked another on Friday and sent a third one home. Then the French exploded with five goals against their Swiss neighbors. In the evening game, Ecuador downed Honduras, 2-1.

The story so far: Two European powers – Spain and England – are out of contention after just two games. European teams have played eight teams from the Americas and won just twice. The nine teams from Africa and Asia have contrived to win just one game between them.

But for teams from the Americas, their record as of yesterday against nations from other regions: played 12, lost just two. Ole! In short, the new world is embarrassing the old one.

None of the previous seven World Cups in the Americas were won by teams outside Latin America. On current evidence, this one looks increasingly unlikely to be the exception.

Although the score was just 1-0, Costa Rica was a convincing winner yesterday over four-time champion Italy in the coastal city of Recife. Having also won its first match, 3-1, against two-time winner Uruguay, Costa Rica is now guaranteed a spot in the knockout stage.

Costa Rica’s win also killed off England’s faint hopes of advancing. Italy and Uruguay will play each other Tuesday to determine which of them joins Costa Rica in advancing from Group D and which will join 1966 champion England and 2010 winner Spain in phoning their travel agents.

Costa Rica, with just 5 million people, was seen as the easy opponent in the group – the first ever with three former world champions. Instead, the Ticos have looked the hungriest team of the four, and are already preparing for a knockout game.

The only two European nations to have beaten Americas teams so far in Brazil are France and Switzerland, which overcame Honduras and Ecuador, respectively, in their first Group E matches. Yesterday, France and Switzerland played each other in Salvador, also on the coast. The French were rampant winners, 5-2, all but guaranteeing they, too, will advance to the last 16 for only the second time since they won the title in 1998.

Switzerland Coach Ottmar Hitzfeld tipped France to go “very far in this tournament” after it shredded his team’s defenses and reputation as tough to break down. Five different players scored for France.

If it stays on top of Group E, it will likely face Iran, Nigeria or Bosnia in the last 16. They should all be manageable opponents for the talented French who are rebuilding their reputation ruined by a training ground strike by players at the last World Cup. Friday marked the fourth anniversary of that debacle in South Africa.

Attackers Olivier Giroud and Karim Benzema each scored one goal and created another against the Swiss. Benzema went 15 games without scoring for France in 2012-2013. He now is among just four players to have three goals in Brazil.

“Karim is confirming that he’s in very, very good form. He’s in great shape athletically,” said France Coach Didier Deschamps. “Having such an efficient player is very important in a competition like this.”

The outcome of Group E remains undecided even after Honduras’s loss in Curitiba to Ecuador, its second defeat of the tournament. France, with two wins and most goals scored and fewest allowed, is best placed to go through.

Costa Rica had never beaten Uruguay in eight previous attempts or Italy in their only meeting in 1994. If it beats England in the teams’ first-ever encounter next Tuesday, Costa Rica will complete a hat-trick of victories over those former champions with seven World Cup titles between them.

Their victory over the Italians was no fluke. Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon made several diving saves. But he couldn’t reach Bryan Ruiz’s pinpoint header in the 44th minute off Junior Diaz’s long, curling cross from the left.

Costa Rica ground to a standstill as government employees took the day off to watch the game and many schools shut down shortly after the victory to allow children to join celebrations. Crowds shouting: “Yes, we did it!” blocked streets of downtown San Jose, the capital. In Brazil, players began to receive photos of the party on their smartphones. Costa Rica’s only other appearance in the knockout phase came in its World Cup debut in 1990. It didn’t get beyond the group stage in 2002 and 2006.

“It was the squad with the lowest profile in the group, but you don’t advance on profile alone in big tournaments,” said Italy Coach Cesare Prandelli.

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