Cesare Prandelli confessed to “a deserved defeat” against an “aggressive” Costa Rica, as Italy face a showdown with Uruguay.
The 1-0 result in Recife leaves the Azzurri needing at least a draw with Uruguay, based on goal difference, to go through.
“It was a defeat where Costa Rica were much more aggressive and played with passion,” Coach Prandelli told RAI Sport.
“We already knew this was a particularly tough group and that we’d have to gamble our qualification in the last game with Uruguay.
“We thought that we’d find a third midfielder, but never did. If we had scored, then perhaps it would’ve been a different game, but we deserved this defeat.
“I don’t know if we were superficial and it would be a huge mistake if we were. The players ran hard and in these conditions gave all they had.
“We had a plan, but Costa Rica were smart to close down every gap for the passes to go through.”
Costa Rica have now qualified for the knockouts and England are eliminated, so only one from Italy and Uruguay will go through.
“Are we afraid? No, we just need to recover our energy.”