Switzerland manager Vladimir Petkovic defended his decision to field four players who were one yellow card away from suspension in the final game of Group E against Costa Rica.
Captain Stephan Lichtsteiner and defender Fabian Schar both picked up their second bookings of the tournament against Los Ticos and will now miss Switzerland's last 16 match against Sweden next Tuesday.
Valon Behrami and talisman Xherdan Shaqiri also played despite walking the same yellow card tightrope, but Petkovic said that he had to make the decisions to ensure that Switzerland would reach the knockout stages.
"[Qualifying for the last 16] was the main objective, we had to make sure we delivered," Petkovic said, as quoted by Channel News Asia. "We have 23 players in our squad. It's too bad for those two players but it's too late to correct that."
As it turned out, Brazil's 2-0 win over Serbia in Moscow meant that even a defeat would not have eliminated Petkovic's side.
Blerim Dzemaili and Josip Drmic scored for Switzerland but they were denied victory by a resilient Costa Rica side who twice equalised, first through Kendall Waston and then via a late Bryan Ruiz penalty, deflected into the net off goalkeeper Yann Sommer.
Switzerland now face Sweden in Saint Petersburg in one of the more unpredictable last 16 ties. Sweden topped Group F with an impressive 3-0 win over Mexico on Wednesday.
If Switzerland beat Sweden, they will be into their first World Cup quarter final since reaching the last 8 on home soil in 1954.