RIO DE JANEIRO – 2nd rd: Colombia 2, Uruguay 0
—- One of the finest goals of the World Cup finals by James Rodriguez inspired Colombia to victory over a Suarez-less Uruguay and into the quarter-finals for the first time.
In the 25th minute Rodriguez controlled a long ball upfield on his chest, swivelled through 180deg and hit a dipping volley which clipped the underside of the bar. Rodriguez effectively wrapped up victory with a shot from close range five minutes into the second half. He thus became the finals’ five-goal leading scorer.
Uruguay, missing suspended Luis Suarez, might have fought their way back into the match but could not take advantage of chances created in the closing stages as Colombia began to run out of steam.
In the absence of the injured Radamel Falcao, his Monaco clubmate has become Colombia’s new inspiration ahead of their meeting with hosts Brazil in Friday’s quarter-final in Fortaleza.
Rodriguez is both the first player to score in the first four games of a World Cup since Brazil’s Ronaldo and Rivaldo in 2002 and the first player to score in each of his first four World Cup games since Italy’s Christian Vieri in 1998.
After the heat of the off-field debate, the game itself was actually threatening an anti-climax until the magical intervention of Rodriguez before the half-hour delivered another moment to illuminate these finals
His second goal, five minutes after half-time, was an illustration of Colombia’s combination of talent and teamwork.
After a period of possession, Pablo Armero’s cross found Juan Cuadrado, who showed great athleticism to guide his header into the path of Rodriguez, who made no mistake from eight yards.
Cuadrado has provided four assists at these finals, more than any other player. He is also the first player to reach four assists in one World Cup since Italy’s Francesco Totti and Argentina’s Juan Riquelme (also four) in 2006.
Uruguay responded belatedly but though Maxi Pereira and Edinson Cavani forced fine saves from Colombia keeper David Ospina that was all they had to show for their late efforts.
Colombia have now won as many games at World Cup 2014 (three) as in their previous 13 games in the competition.