KAZAN: Colombia revived their World Cup prospects with a decisive 3-0 victory in Group H in Kazan over a Poland side who were thus eliminated from the tournament.
Yerry Mina struck shortly before half-time with follow-up goals coming in the second period from veteran striker Radamel Falcao – who missed the 2014 finals in Brazil through a knee injry – and Juan Cuadrado,
James Rodriguez, who has been on loan at Bayern Munich this past season from Real Madrid, laid on the first and third goals as he demonstrated his return to fitness following the injury which prevented him starting Colombia’s opening defeat by Japan.
The result means Poland will definitely be going home after their final Group H game with Senegal on Thursday, while the South Americans can still go through.
The 2014 quarter-finalists had been in danger of elimination after an opening loss to Japan, but they produced a brilliant attacking display against the Poles.
They opened the scoring five minutes before the interval, with the attacking triumvirate of James Rodriguez, Juan Cuadrado and Juan Fernando Quintero all involved from a short corner. The former was allowed space to deliver a perfect cross from the right that Barcelona defender Yerry Mina just had to guide beyond an oncoming Wojciech Szczesny with his head.
Nobody scored more goals across Europe in qualifying than Poland’s Robert Lewandowski, but the Bayern Munich man was being starved of service while their opponents appeared awash with creativity.
Poland’s hopes of recovery were dashed 20 minutes from time when Falcao, who was ruled out of the 2014 tournament through injury, scored his country’s second.
He was released by a terrific ball from Quintero, who weighted the pass perfectly to allow Falcao to take one touch and coolly slot an outside-of-the-foot finish into the net.
Colombia were not done there and their third goal may have been the pick of the bunch.
Rodriguez created it from the byline when he spotted Cuadrado in space down the middle. The ex-Chelsea winger took two touches to race through and then placed his effort beyond Juventus team-mate Szczesny and into the corner of the net.
Poland thus became the first European nation to be eliminated from the World Cup and Colombia’s victory meant there have still been no goalless draw after 32 matches so far at the 2018 World Cup, the longest wait from the start of a tournament without one (no 0-0s in 26 games in the entire 1954 tournament).