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Jun 21, 2014

Five Aside: Match Day 9

The ESPN FC crew break down all the best action from Matchday Nine and review the biggest surprises from Groups D and E.

Costa Rica advanced to the knockout round for the second time ever with its 1-0 win over Italy, which also eliminated England in the group stage for the first time since 1958. In Salvador, France cruised to a 5-2 win over Switzerland, the first time since the 1958 tournament that France has scored five in a single World Cup game.

Here are five notes to know from the early action on Matchday 9.

*CONCACAF teams have been having a fantastic tournament so far. With Costa Rica's win over Italy, CONCACAF improves to 4-1-1 at the 2014 World Cup. The federation had just three wins combined at the entire 2006 and 2010 World Cups. The upset victory makes Costa Rica the third current CONCACAF nation ever to win its first two games at a World Cup, joining Mexico in 2002 and the United States in 1930.

Costa Rica now has an 89 percent chance of finishing atop Group D, according to Soccer Power Index, after entering the tournament with a 9.7 percent chance of winning the group.

*Captain Bryan Ruiz seems to be right at home playing forward for Costa Rica. Costa Rica has won 10 straight games when Ruiz scores and his game-winner against Italy was the third goal in his last five international games. Before joining PSV Eindhoven on loan in January, he had just eight goals in 68 appearances as a midfielder for Fulham over the last three Barclays Premier League seasons.

- Five Aside blog

*Italy, which suffered its first-ever World Cup loss against a CONCACAF opponent (now 4-1-3), struggled on the attack against Costa Rica. The Italians touched the ball in the attacking third of the field just 83 times against Costa Rica, its fewest such touches in a game over that last five World Cup tournaments.

Italy completed more than 200 more passes than Costa Rica in the game. However, the Ticos completed 10 more passes in the attacking third of the field. Andrea Pirlo especially struggled in the attacking third Friday. The only other time Pirlo completed one or fewer passes in the attacking third in any of his 10 World Cup games, Italy lost (2010 against Slovakia).

*According to Soccer Power Index's pregame projections, France had a 2.9 percent chance of scoring five or more goals against Switzerland. Each of the five goals were scored by a different player for just the second time in France's World Cup history and the first time since 1958. Before Friday, the Swiss had allowed a total of two goals in their previous eight World Cup games combined. The last time Switzerland conceded five goals in a single World Cup game was its 0-5 loss to West Germany in 1966.

*France's 42 total shots and 26 shots on goal lead all teams in the tournament so far. Karim Benzema has been having an outstanding tournament for France. His six scoring chances created against Switzerland were the most by a player in a game at this tournament and His 67th minute goal was his ninth in his last eight international games.

France will advance with a win or draw by Honduras in the third match of the day.

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