BRASILIA – Gp C: Colombia 2, Ivory Coast 1
—- Colombia became the third nation to reach the second round of the World Cup after securing their second win in two games.
James Rodriguez headed in a near post corner and Juan Quintero struck home after Serey Die was caught in possession to put Los Cafeteros 2-0 up. But Gervinho skipped past three Colombia defenders and powered in a shot to give Ivory Coast vain hope.
Colombia’s qualification was guaranteed only after the day’s late goalless draw between Greece and Japan. This meant that Colombia were certain of progressing, probably as group winners. They play Japan in Cuiaba in their last first-round game.
The two sides produced an enthralling game which sparked to life after the break.
Colombia had the greater attacking intent and Teofilo Gutierrez should have put them ahead. Replays showed the striker was marginally offside but he was not flagged and failed to capitalise when he horribly mistimed a side-footed effort from eight yards.
Still, he was faring better than Ivory Coast’s Wilfried Bony. The Swansea City striker failed to touch the ball in the opposition half, most glaringly when he failed to connect with two crosses when well-placed either side of half time.
It was little surprise when he was replaced by Didier Drogba.
Colombia, though, proved more potent. An acute angled Juan Cuadrado strike was tipped on to the face of the crossbar by keeper Boubacar Barry before the South Americans scored.
Rodriguez powerfully headed in a Cuadrado corner for his second goal of the tournament.
Ivory Coast responded when Serge Aurier’s cross almost sneaked in at the near post before being punched away by keeper David Ospina but the Elephants were the architects of their own downfall a few moments later.
Die was caught in possession and Gutierrez released substitute Quintero to slot in.
The Africans, who will be without makeshift centre-back Didier Zokora for their final group match against Greece after he picked up a second booking of the competition, raised themselves and reduced the deficit.
Gervinho cut into the Colombia box from the left flank and, after dancing past three tackles, drove in a shot.
The Ivorians pressed for an equaliser and Drogba was almost through on goal late on after a Mario Yepes mistake, only for keeper Ospina to rush out of his goal, clear the danger and ensure Colombia secured consecutive World Cup wins for the first time.
Colombia coach Jose Pekerman said: “It is, of course, a huge pleasure to see Colombia coming to this level. First of all, we are at the World Cup after such a long period of time, and then having enjoyed consecutive victories with players who are here for the first time, so they are all very positive situations for us.
“However, we cannot start thinking ahead of time or what might be coming later on.”
The Ivory Coast’s Sabri Lamouchi said: “I am not obsessed with Didier Drogba. If you look at the team, I have seen very interesting things from my players. It is just a few details that we missed, and that meant we lost the game.”
He added: “My players did not deserve to lose, a draw would have been more deserved. It was a very experienced Colombian team who waited for us to make mistakes, unfortunately we made some and were hit in a hard way.”
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