SAN JOSE, Costa Rica (AP) — Thousands of Costa Ricans waving the country's blue, white and red flag poured onto the streets of their capital Friday to celebrate the national soccer team's 1-0 victory over Italy in the World Cup.
The country came to a standstill as government employees took the day off to watch the game and many schools shut down shortly after the victory to allow children to join in the celebration. President Luis Guillermo Solis walked from the presidential house to Fuente de la Hispanidad, a traditional place for celebrations in in the capital, San Jose.
Jorge Loria, 35, watched the game at a friend's house then headed to Fuente de la Hispanidad to join fellow revelers. The chef said the happiness from seeing his team defeat Uruguay and now Italy is so big he feels Costa Rica can win the tournament.
"We will be world champions!" Loria said. "That's how happy I feel."
Costa Rica, which won a place in the World Cup by finishing second in CONCACAF region's qualifying tournament behind the United States, had been considered the weakest team in its group. But the team now leads Group D, which also includes England, and will advance into the World Cup second round for the first time in 24 years.
The streets of downtown San Jose were blocked by crowds of fans wearing the team's red jersey and who were jumping and shouting: "Yes, we did it! Yes, we did it."
Karla Madrigal, a nurse, watched the game in a plaza where a giant screen was set up.
"Once the game ended, people started jumping, shouting, crying," she said. "It was a giant party."
Madrigal said she had been hoping Costa Rica could tie Italy and she never expected a victory.
"It was a wonderful surprise to see them win," she said. "They went out there and played with their hearts."