ST PETERSBURG (Reuters) - Costa Rica were eliminated from the World Cup after just two games with a 2-0 loss to Brazil on Friday and coach Oscar Ramirez said there was little more his team could have done.
The Central Americans kept the score goalless until stoppage time when Philippe Coutinho broke the deadlock and then Neymar made sure of the outcome six minutes later.
“I don’t know what more we could have done. Considering what I had at my disposal and what they had, it was a good effort. They are one of the best teams in the world,” said Ramirez.
“We had a plan, a strategy, and an idea for how to control the opponents with and without the ball and in the first half we had enough possession and opportunities.
“We knew Brazil’s strengths and we wanted to minimize them and we managed to do so for nearly 91 minutes,” he added.
Brazil coach Tite brought on Douglas Costa for Willian on the right at halftime and then threw on an extra striker in Roberto Firmino.
Ramirez, whose side lost 1-0 to Serbia in their opening game, said those switches had made the difference.
“They made changes that made our life difficult. My players made a huge effort, they defended well and whenever we had the chance to attack their goal they did. But unfortunately, in the end, we weren’t able to finish.
The Costa Rica coach rejected the criticism that he had been too cautious with his tactics.
“I think we have seen several games in this World Cup that the results are very tight and things are decided by fine margins.
The second goal was a consequence of players being a little tired. You have to know when to risk and when not if you are up against a very, very good team.
“We had to keep the balance but we created opportunities in the second half – we had Joel and Bolanos warming up in the first half.
“International games are played very differently. I thought we managed the game well against a very strong national side,” he added.
Ramirez denied that his team were unable to compete physically with top-level opponents but said they lacked the finishing touch they showed four years ago in their surprise run to the quarter-finals.
“We run, look at FIFA stats and they show we run a lot — I don’t think less strong in that area. It was other things which failed — remember we were playing against a team with brilliant players.
“Unfortunately it was not like in 2014, we were not able to finish when we had opportunities — unlike against Italy in Brazil where we had two chances and won 1-0.”
Reporting by Simon Evans, editing by Neil Robinson