sport

Pinto praise for Costa Rica

Costa Rica coach Jorge Luis Pinto saluted the achievement of his side as they qualified for the last 16 of the World Cup as Group D winners.

A 0-0 draw with already-eliminated England in their final fixture was enough to ensure that the supposed minnows of the section emerged top of the pile.

And Colombia-born Pinto was quick to praise the efforts of his squad after their shock victories over Uruguay and Italy and the stalemate with Roy Hodgson's men.

He said: "We've given Costa Rica status in the football world. No-one can say it was chance, luck or just for a few moments.

"It was a really complicated group of very experienced teams. But we came to fight and compete, and we have done.

\"We've been very constant. I hope we can keep on like that. We'll give our all whoever we face next.

"This was called the group of death, but it wasn't - not for us anyway.

"I'm so happy for Costa Rica. I know the love they have for football.

"May they keep enjoying it! I've loved the three games. We've played a sure, dynamic football. We're unbeaten, it's historic."

Pinto admitted it was a tough game against England, who made nine changes to their starting XI from the defeat by Uruguay as Hodgson shuffled his pack for their final fixture.

"They have a good attack and strong defence. It's a team that didn't have any luck," he added.

"It wasn't easy for me with the changes they made - quality players like Gerrard, (Raheem) Sterling and Rooney. I told you they weren't going to go home without a point."