James Rodriguez stars as Colombia brush aside Uruguay
Sunday, 29th June 2014 at 04:56am
Monaco star James Rodriguez scored a stunning individual goal and finished off a brilliant team move as Colombia beat Uruguay 2-0 to reach the World Cup finals for the first time in their history.
The 22-year-old scored either side of halftime as Uruguay struggled to make any real impact on the Colombian defence in the absence of the banned Luis Suarez.
Jose Peckerman's side won all three of their group stage matches, scoring more goals than any other team in the process and started the game as heavy favourites against their fellow South Americans stripped of their best player.
Rodriguez went into the game one goal behind Lionel Messi, Neymar and Thomas Mueller in the race for the Golden Shoe.
It took him just 28 minutes to draw level with them and it was a goal all three would have been proud to call their own.
There appeared little danger when Rodriguez controlled the ball on his chest 25 yards from goal but he swiveled and struck a perfect volley that left Fernando Muslera clutching at thin air before bouncing over the line off the crossbar.
The goal meant he became the first player since Ronaldo and Rivaldo in 2002 to score in the first four games of World Cup finals, and the first since Christian Vieri in 1998 to score in his first four World Cup games.
If the first goal was all about Rodriguez's individual genius, Colombia's second was all about Peckerman's team's brilliance.
A sustained spell of possession saw the ball find its way to Pablo Amero on the Colombia left. The former West ham loanee's cross was beautifully headed down by Juan Cuadrado to Rodriguez who swept past the helpless Muslera for his fifth goal of the finals.
Uruguay did rally from their two-goal deficit as Edinson Cavani went close with a free kick before Maxi Pereira brought a good save from David Ospina.
But without Suarez they never really looked likely to get back into the game and will follow Suarez back to Montevideo to lick their wounds ahead of their Copa America defence next year.
Colombia march on and will face Brazil in the quarter-finals.