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World Cup: Costa Rica can leave with their heads held high

July 06, 2014 17:59 IST

'We have left a very positive and dignified image of Costa Rican football'

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Costa Rica achieved "wonderful things" at this World Cup and are proud to bow out having conceded only two goals and without losing a game, coach Jorge Luis Pinto said on Saturday.

"During this World Cup we have done very beautiful things that many people didn't believe we could achieve -- wonderful things," Pinto said after a 4-3 penalty shootout defeat by the Netherlands following a quarter-final which finished 0-0 at the end of extra time.

"We played against great powerhouses of football. We leave the tournament unbeaten. It's incredible. We played five matches and conceded only one goal and one penalty."

Costa Rica have been one of the revelations of the tournament, beating Uruguay and Italy and drawing with England to reach the knock-out stages for only the second time in their history.

They beat Greece in a penalty shootout in the second round and held the Netherlands to a goalless draw for two hours in Salvador.

"The Netherlands are a very strong team, they're internationally renowned, but we proved we are at the same level as them," Pinto said.

"They have players who have played at European Championships and World Cups before and who compete in the big leagues.

"We think we have left a very positive and dignified image of Costa Rican football."\

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Image: Head coach Jorge Luis Pinto of Costa Rica consoles his players after a defeat to the Netherlands in a penalty shootout in the World Cup quarter-finals on Saturday
Photographs: Michael Steele/Getty Images

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'This team can leave with their heads held high'

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Pinto was asked about the Dutch decision to switch goalkeepers just before the shootout and bring on Tim Krul.

"Maybe he's a specialist. I respect that. I've never seen that before ... but we were not intimidated at all," he said.

At one point late in the match, Pinto engaged Dutch forward Arjen Robben in a lengthy conversation on the touchline.

"I told Robben he was one of the best players in the world," Pinto said.

"I asked him let us win something today. He's won so much in his career."

Costa Rica goalkeeper Keylor Navas, described by Pinto as "brilliant" and "spectacular", kept the Dutch at bay for much of the match but was unable to stop any of their four penalties.

"We're left with an empty feeling," Navas said.

"Lots of things go through your head. I think we all did a great job.

"It's hard to lose, no one likes it. But this team can leave with their heads held high. We didn't lose a single game. We lost on penalties. It's hard but that's life. 

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Image: Dirk Kuyt of the Netherlands attempts a shot against Junior Diaz of Costa Rica
Photographs: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

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