Costa Rica vs. England: Lackluster Finish Fitting End to Three Lions' World Cup

Sean ODonnellContributor IIIJune 24, 2014

England's goalkeeper Ben Foster saves a header from Costa Rica during the group D World Cup soccer match between Costa Rica and England at the Mineirao Stadium in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, Tuesday, June 24, 2014. (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara)
Fernando Vergara/Associated Press

Taking a positive perspective, at least England didn't finish the 2014 World Cup with three losses.

After all, coming away with zero points after three matches in Group D certainly seemed to be the way things would pan out for England well into Tuesday's match against Costa Rica.

Through each game in this year's World Cup, the Three Lions failed to maintain any kind of aggression—the decision by manager Roy Hodgson to tinker with the lineup on Tuesday only allowed that trend to continue.

Matt Dunham/Associated Press

Although England did have some nice chances later in the match, it still came away empty. Hodgson was surprisingly upbeat about this during his press conference:

"We showed today what a good team we can be. Apart from the first 10 minutes, I thought we dominated."

Not so fast.

The Three Lions failed to record a shot on target until the 80th minute on Tuesday, and due to these ongoing offensive deficiencies, Hodgson has gone five games without a World Cup win (two with Switzerland and three with England).

To make matters worse, England's lone point is its lowest total ever in a World Cup group stage.

Yes, England's showing was slightly better than its performances against Italy and Uruguay; however, the team was still unable to penetrate the defense of a surprisingly efficient Costa Rica team.

Daniel Sturridge had England's best look of the match, taking a nice cross from midfielder Jack Wilshere, but his shot sailed wide. Take a look at the strike, courtesy of World Soccer Talk:

It may be safe to say that shot summed up the Three Lions' World Cup.

Wes Rucker of 247Sports really puts things into perspective:

It's not as if this is a new storyline for England. The country hasn't exactly been an offensive powerhouse in quite some time. According to Martin Samuel of the Daily Mail, the last time England scored more than a single goal in a World Cup contest was a 2-2 draw with Sweden in 2006.

What England has been relying on for quite some time now is its defense.

That side of the pitch continued to shine on Tuesday, as Ben Foster looked magnificent in goal. His deflection of Celso Borges' free kick may have helped the entire team save face.

Rest assured, England noticed the effort:

With Foster now at the age of 31, the Three Lions have a short window of opportunity to shore up their attack to complement a fine defense.

Although, with Sturridge, Wilshere, Ross Barkley, Phil Jones and more promising young players already in the fold, it may not be too presumptuous to speculate that this team has a bright future ahead.

Unfortunately, for this year anyway, England heads home wondering what may have been once more.