CUIABA – Gp c: Colombia 4, Japan 1
—- Colombia finished top of Group C to set up a last-16 tie against Uruguay after beating ending the already fast-fading hopes of Japan.
Japan needed a win to stand any hope of progressing but went behind when Juan Cuadrado converted an early penalty after Yasuyuki Konno’s foul on Adrian Ramos.
Shinji Okazaki’s header drew Japan level only for Jackson Martinez’s low strike to restore Colombia’s lead. Martinez scored again before James Rodriguez’s delicate chip wrapped up the win.
Colombia used their third goal as the signal to bring on 43-year-old keeper Faryd Mondragon, whose introduction saw him become the oldest player at a World Cup finals as he broke Cameroon forward Roger Milla’s record.
Mondragon, 43, thus made his first competitive appearance in nine years for Los Cafeteros, who had already qualified for the knockout stages for the first time since 1990.
Japan manager Alberto Zaccheroni had recalled playmaker Shinji Kagawa in an attacking line-up but, despite Colombia making eight changes to rest key players, they quickly found themselves behind.
Konno tripped Ramos and winger Cuadrado, who had assisted three of his side’s five goals in Brazil, hit home the penalty.
Japan went close when Kagawa sidestepped Eder Balanta and had a low shot turned around the post by keeper David Ospina before Colombia should have extended their lead.
Ramos squared the ball across the box only for the unmarked Martinez to side-foot wide.
That miss was punished when Japan equalised on the stroke of half-time. Keisuke Honda crossed and Okazaki stooped low to head home.
Colombia playmaker Rodriguez came on for his side after the break and had a shot deflected wide before setting up Martinez to angle in a shot to restore their lead.
Honda had a dipping free-kick fended away by Ospina and Yoshito Okubo blazed high from a low cross as Japan continued to attack.
But Zaccheroni’s team left themselves exposed at the back and Colombia capitalised.
Rodriguez set up Martinez to finish a counter-attack before the forward turned goalscorer when he jinked past Maya Yoshida and chipped home for his third goal of the tournament.