Japan falls to Ivory Coast; Costa Rica stuns Uruguay; Italy overcomes England

June 14, 2014
Japan's Masato Morishige, left, tries to hold Ivory Coast's Didier Drogba, right, during the group C World Cup soccer match at the Arena Pernambuco in Recife, Brazil, Saturday, June 14, 2014. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

Japan’s Masato Morishige, left, tries to hold Ivory Coast’s Didier Drogba, right, during the group C World Cup match at the Arena Pernambuco in Recife, Brazil, Saturday, June 14, 2014. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

Arsenal product Joel Campbell willed Costa Rica to a stunning 3-1 win over Uruguay Saturday in the first real upset of the World Cup. The small Central American nation now leads Group D after the opening games, which also saw Italy defeat England 2-1 in a thriller.

In Group C action, Colombia trounced Greece 3-0 while Ivory Cost came from behind to defeat Japan 2-1.

Uruguay, which advanced to the semifinals in 2010, faced Costa Rica without all-world striker Luis Suarez, who was nursing a knee injury, but went ahead in the 24th minute when Edinson Cavani converted a penalty.

But Campbell, a frontline predator who tormented Uruguayan defenders throughout the game, tied it at one apiece in the 54th minute when he gathered a ball headed down by Celso Borges and drilled a left-footer behind goalkeeper Fernando Muslera.

Costa Rica went ahead three minutes later when Oscar Duarte dived past the outstretched foot of Uruguay’s Cristian Stuani to convert a stunning header Robin Van Persie would have been proud of. Campbell found Marcos Urena on the right side of the box in the 84th minute and Urena’s right-footer took the drama out of the game.

Italy's Mario Balotelli celebrates after getting the ball past England's goalkeeper Joe Hart, left, and Gary Cahill, center, to score his side's second goal during the Group D World Cup match between England and Italy at the Arena da Amazonia in Manaus, Brazil, Saturday. (AP)

Italy’s Mario Balotelli celebrates after getting the ball past England’s goalkeeper Joe Hart, left, and Gary Cahill, center, to score his side’s second goal during the Group D World Cup match between England and Italy at the Arena da Amazonia in Manaus, Brazil, Saturday. (AP)

In arguably the most entertaining game of the tournament so far, Italy escaped as 2-1 winners thanks to Mario Balotelli’s second-half strike. England was ferocious out of the gate and looked dangerous on the break, but seemed to tire in the second half as the opportunistic Italians began to exert their will in the game.

For reasons unclear, England showed little interest in pressuring Italian playmaker Andrea Pirlo throughout the game and the 35-year-old deftly set up Claudio Marchisio’s first goal from long range. But England tied the game just two minutes later when Daniel Sturridge took a cross from Wayne Rooney and slammed it home from close range.

Balotelli undid the equalizer from Sturridge with a 50th minute header. Raheem Sterling and Rooney squandered a couple of opportunities for England late in the game to allow the Italians leave with three points.

Italy now faces Costa Rica in its next match, while England and Uruguay will clash with their World Cup hopes on the line.

Colombia started its first World Cup campaign in 16 years in impressive fashion by blowing the Greeks out of the water.

Colombian feft back Pablo Armero opened the scoring in the fifth minute, and Teofilo Gutierrez and James Rodriguez found the net in the second half.

Keisuke Honda gave Japan an early lead against Ivory Coast. But Ivory Coast looked like an entirely different team in the second half after Didier Drogba came off bench in the second half. Drogba, who is currently battling an injury, came in the 62nd minute when his team was still trailing 1-0. The striker’s arrival immediately sparked Ivory Coast team and Wilfried Bony and Gervinho scored with headers two minutes apart.

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