England’s dismal World Cup campaign ended in a fittingly underwhelming fashion as Roy Hodgson’s men laboured to a dull goalless draw against Costa Rica.
Daniel Sturridge was guilty of missing three good chances, although he should have been awarded a penalty when he was hacked down by Oscar Duerte in the first half.
Ben Foster tipped Celso Borges’s free-kick on to the bar, but other than that Costa Rica – who qualify as winners – rarely tested England’s stand-in goalkeeper.
That said, there was nothing really threatening about England either during this often-dour 90-minute affair in Belo Horizonte.
In fact, the atmosphere inside the Estadio Mineirao was more like that of a pre-season friendly.
England’s fans started off by cheering their team loudly, and the likes of Luke Shaw, Adam Lallana and the impressive Jack Wilshere responded with good performances.
But by the end there was a flat feeling among the few thousand who had come to Belo Horizonte for this dead rubber.
It was easy to see why they were down in the doldrums. England have vastly under-performed at this tournament.
They head home having amassed just one point from their three matches – that is England’s worst points total in World Cup history.
Manager Roy Hodgson may have the backing of his employers, but he knows he needs better performances to justify his claim that England will not suffer another early exit at Euro 2016.
Despite all the pre-match bluster from Hodgson on Monday, England started off slowly. In fact, they could not get hold of the ball.
For the first minute and a half, Costa Rica’s noisy fans shouted “Ole” as England chased shadows in the lunchtime heat.
Within four minutes England were nearly behind. Randall Brenes found Joel Campbell on the edge of the box and his deflected looped up off Gary Cahill past Ben Foster’s goal.
A few groans were heard as Chris Smalling sliced a simple pass out of play. Cahill needlessly punted the ball out moments later.
Finally, England came into the game courtesy of Wilshere, who beat two players and found Sturridge, but he dragged his shot just wide.
Shaw showed no sign of nerves going forward, but he gave away a free-kick in a dangerous position.
Borges stepped up and bent a dipping shot over the wall and onto the bar via the fingertips of the athletic Foster.
The only other point of note in the dull first period came just before the half hour when Ross Barkley touched James Milner’s cross into the path of Sturridge. The Liverpool striker shaped to shoot, but Duarte brought him down with an out-stretched leg.
Referee Djamel Haimoudi waved play on, much to Sturridge’s dismay.
Fortune favoured England in a move straight after the break. Shaw’s shot looped straight into the path of Sturridge in the box, but the striker mis-controlled, allowing Costa Rica goalkeeper Keylor Navas to smother the ball.
Giancarlo Gonzalez dumped Barkley on the turf with a wrestling move, but Frank Lampard, appearing possibly for the last time in an England shirt, wasted the free-kick, driving straight into the wall.
Hodgson tried to inject some life into his team by introducing Raheem Sterling.
The England support then demanded Wayne Rooney enter the pitch. Instead they got Steven Gerrard, who was cheered by the fans, who suspected this might be the captain’s final England appearance. Rooney finally came on with 15 minutes left.
The Manchester United striker attempted an audacious chip over Navas and came within inches of turning home Lampard’s cross.
England kept on trying, but they could not beat Costa Rica – a team ranked below Scotland by FIFA. The locals and the Costa Ricans inside the stadium joined forces to belittle England at the end, shouting “eliminado”.
You do not have to be a multi-linguist to work out what that means. And you do not have to be a genius to work out that this has been a sorry World Cup for England.
Costa Rica: Navas, Gamboa, Duarte, Gonzalez, Miller, Diaz, Ruiz, Borges (Barrantes 78), Tejeda, Brenes (Bolanos 59), Campbell (Urena 65). Unused substitutes: Pemberton, Acosta, Umana, Myrie, Francis, Granados, Calvo,Cubero,Cambronero.
England: Foster, Jones, Smalling, Cahill, Shaw, Lampard, Wilshere (Gerrard 73), Milner (Rooney 76), Barkley, Lallana (Sterling 62), Sturridge. Unused substitutes: Hart, Johnson, Jagielka, Welbeck, Henderson, Lambert, Baines, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Forster.
Referee: D Haimoudi (Algeria).