World Cup - Colombia impress again as they eliminate Japan

World Cup Group C, Arena Pantanal - Japan 1 (Ozanaki 45+1’) Colombia 4 (Cuadrado 17’ Martinez 55’ 82’ Rodriguez 89’)

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World Cup - Colombia impress again as they eliminate Japan
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olombia's midfielder James Rodriguez (L) celebrates with his teammate Colombia's defender Pablo Armero (AFP)

Colombia qualified for the knockout round for the World Cup with three wins and eliminated Japan with a 4-1 victory.

The first half was one of the most curious of the competition so far. Japan had most of the ball, and Colombia were absolutely satisfied to sit back, and wait for the counterattack - and it worked.

Colombia broke down towards the Japanese goal in 16th minute, and Yasuyuki Konno slid through on Adrian Ramos. It was an obvious penalty, one that had come from nowhere, and one that Juan Cuadrado slammed down the centre of the pitch.

The match then reverted to type, with Japan dominating around Colombia’s box, and drawing free kicks and corners, but doing nothing with them. Then, with the last kick of the half, Shinji Okazaki glanced in a header from Keisuke Honda’s cross.

In the second half, Colombia introduced James Rodriguez, who lifted his side. On 54 minutes, his cross was pushed just over the bar by Carlos Carbonero, and a minute later a lovely pass to Jackson Martinez let his teammate slam a shot into the bottom corner.

Colombia were lucky to keep Eder Balanta on the pitch, when he elbowed Okazaki in the face, but broke through with yet another counter attack on 82 minutes as Rodriguez set up Martinez to curl in a lovely finish for the third. Rodriguez then surpassed everyone on the pitch with a stylish chip over Eija Kawashima, and Japan left well beaten.

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KEY EVENTS

16’ - PENALTY - Konno’s daft lunge trips Ramos and the referee points to the spot.

17’ CUADRADO SCORES - With plenty of confidence, Cuadrado slams a penalty straight down the middle of the goal.

26’ KAGAWA MISS - Shinji Kagawa cuts in from the left and drags it just wide of the near post, shooting from outside the box.

33’ - HONDA FREE KICK - Honda curls a low shot from 25 yards out just wide of the goal. Ospina probably had it covered, but was not sure.

42’ - MARTINEZ MISS - Jackson Martinez receives a square pass from Ramos on the right, but he drags a low, slow shot wide.

45+2’ - OKAZAKI GOAL - A curling, left-foot cross from Honda on the right wing is squeezed between Ospina and the post to equalise.

54’ - CARBONERO CHANCE - Rodriguez whips in a lovely cross from the left, but Carbonero lifts his shot over from close range.

55’ - MARTINEZ GOAL - Rodriguez receives the ball on the edge of the box, and shifts a deft ball left for Martinez to strike into the far corner.

61’ BALANTA ELBOW - Balanta elbows Okazak in the face, and the referee misses it. He should be off.

64’ - HONDA FREE KICK - Honda curls in a free kick towards goal that is punched away easily enough.

65’ - OKUBO MISS - Six yards from goal, on the end of a low cross, Okubo sends a shot miles over.

82’ MARTINEZ GOAL - Rodriguez disguises a reverse pass forward for Martinez’s diagonal run, comes onto his left-foot and curls a shot into the far corner.

89’ - RODRIGUEZ GOAL - Rodriguez twists and turns after running onto a through ball, putting the defender on his bottom and lifting a deft shot over the ‘keeper.

KEY STATS

Colombia’s substitute goalkeeper Faryd Mondragon became the oldest ever player to feature in a World Cup match, at 43 years and three days.

Japan had five shots before Colombia scored with their first shot of the game.

Japan scored with their 14th shot of the game. They ended up with 24 shots overall.

Meanwhile Colombia scored with all four of their shots on target in the match.

It was the first time Japan had scored against Colombia in three games against them.

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Jackson Martinez scored with his first shot at the World Cup.

James Rodriguez has scored in each of his last five appearances for Colombia.

Rodriguez’s goal was the 24th by a substitute at this tournament, breaking the previous record of 23 set at the 2006 World Cup.

Before 2014, Colombia had only ever won a total of three games in four previous World Cup appearances (13 games) but have won all three this time round.

11 of the last 13 goals conceded by Japan at the World Cup have arrived after half-time.

Only Netherlands (10) have scored more goals at the 2014 World Cup than Colombia (9).

MATCHCAST: FULL MATCH STATS AND COMMENTARY

TALKING POINT

How far can Colombia go? With European teams struggling, and Brazil and Argentina nowhere near their best, Colombia are a match for any team in the competition. Of course, winning it is hugely unlikely, but getting to the final is by no means out of the question.

MAN OF THE MATCH

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James Rodriguez (Colombia) - Jackson Martinez also impressed with his two goals, but Rodriguez changed the whole dynamic of the game, allowing Colombia to make the most of their counter attacks with accurate passing and, at the end of the game, some cool finishing.

PLAYER RATINGS

Japan: Kawashima 5, Uchida 5, Konno 5, Yoshida 5, Nagatomo 5, Hasebe 4, Aoyama 5, Kagawa 5, Honda 6, Okazaki 6, Okubo 6. Subs: Yamaguchi 6, Kiyotake 6.

Colombia: Ospina 6, Arias, Balanta 6, Armero 7, Valdes 6, Guarin 6, Mejia 6, Cuadrado 6, Quintero 6, Ramos 7, Martinez 8. Subs: Carbonero 7, Rodriguez 8, Mondragon 6.

THE MATCH IN A TWEET

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