In case you didn’t know, James Rodriguez is pretty good. He inspired a classy Colombia side past Uruguay at the Estadio de Maracana in Rio De Janeiro to set up a quarter final meeting with host nation Brazil.
The Colombian number ten bagged a goal either side of halftime to condemn a Luis Suárez less La Celeste to elimination. His first was a volley of unfathomable brilliance and the second epitomised everything good about the collective Colombian side.
The first twenty minutes of the game were a battle characteristic of a big Copa Libertadores game. The battle was between the midfield destroyers Egidio Arevalo Rios and Abel Aguilar, a fascinating, hard hitting affair for sure. The only chances of real note came from Colombian full back Juan Zuniga, who firstly tested Fernando Muslera with a stinging drive before whistling an effort wide of the Argentine born stoppers post.
Just before the half hour, the deadlock was broken with a goal that is sure to be an iconic strike for years to come. Aguilar played a lobbed ball into the chest of James Rodriguez, and he did the rest. Controlling the ball on his chest, he turned to give himself an angle before majestically volleying the ball over Muslera, a simply astounding finish from the AS Monaco man.
Five minutes into the second half, the individual brilliance of Rodriguez’s first was almost eclipsed by the collective brilliance of Colombia. The move started with Teofilo Gutierrez on the right, he played a well weighted pass into Jackson Martinez. The Porto striker worked the ball out to Pablo Armero and he swung a cross to the back post, and Juan Cuadrado.
The Fiorentina winger rose high above Diego Godin before heading the ball down into the path of the aforementioned Rodriguez. The diminutive attacker made no mistake with the finish, a delightful touch was enough to force the ball and by extension the game past Muslera and Uruguay respectively.
Uruguay are a side who never give up though and they began to turn the Colombian defensive screw twenty five minutes from time. Their first real effort came by way of Atletico Madrid wide man Christian Rodriguez, he could not emulate his namesake though, his shot just stinging the palms of David Ospina.
La Celeste could not have gone much closer to dragging themselves back into the game than with a chance ten minutes from time. Gaston Ramirez lofted a delicious pass beyond Armero and into the path of Maxi Pereira. He took a single touch before driving a low shot goal wards. Unfortunately for Uruguay though, Ospina was again equal to it.
That was all Uruguay could muster as Colombia move on to Fortaleza on Friday to do battle with hosts Brazil for a place in the FIFA World Cup Semi Final.
Colombia: David Ospina; Juan Zúñiga, Cristian Zapata, Mario Yepes, Pablo Armero; Abel Aguilar, Carlos Sánchez; Juan Cuadrado (Fredy Guarín 81), James Rodriguez (Adrian Ramos 85); Jackson Martinez, Teofilo Gutierrez (Alex Mejía 68).
Subs not used: Faryd Mondragon (GK), Camilo Vargas (GK), Eder Alvarez Balanta, Santiago Arias, Carlos Valdes, Carlos Carbonero, Juan Fernando Quintero, Víctor Ibarbo, Carlos Bacca.
Uruguay: Fernando Muslera; Maxi Pereira, Martín Cáceres, Jose Maria Gimenez, Diego Godin, Alvaro Pereira (Gaston Ramirez 53); Egidio Arevalo Rios, Alvaro Gonzalez (Abel Hernandez 67); Cristian Rodriguez; Diego Forlan (Christian Stuani 53), Edinson Cavani.
Booked: Gimenez (55), Lugano (On bench) (77)
Subs not used: Rodrigo Munoz (GK), Martin Silva (GK), Diego Lugano, Sebastian Coates, Jorge Fucile, Walter Gargano, Nicolas Lodeiro, Diego Perez.
Referee: Bjorn Kuipers (Netherlands)
Extratime.com Man of the Match: James Rodriguez (Colombia)