Colombia secured its place in the in the World Cup quarterfinals after 22-year-old James Rodriguez scored probably the best goals of the tournament against Uruguay 2-0 at the Maracana on Saturday.
With his impressive shot, the Monaco star helped his team to advance out of the group stage. In the second half, Rodriguez doubled the Colombia advantage five minutes after the interval with his fifth goal of the tournament, which was not as remarkable, but it sealed the 2-0 win for Colombia.
After the match, Rodriguez said: “It’s historic, a dream come true: I always wanted to score in the Maracana and now I have. If you want to win, every player is important. Uruguay had a lot of men behind the ball, so we needed plenty of movement up front and we got it. Now things are going to get even harder, but we can go far.”
With two goals against Uruguay, the 22-year-old midfielder moves ahead of Germany’s Thomas Muller and Argentina’s Lionel Messi in the race for the World Cup’s Golden Boot.
It is the first World Cup for Colombia since 1998 and the team has already achieved its best-ever result.
“I’d like to congratulate the whole of Colombia because they deserved this. We made some alterations because we knew how strong our opponents were – it’s really important to know about the opposition,” said coach Jose Pekerman, who is from Argentina.
“The main factor [in this win] was the first half, when we were very solid and managed to get ahead. It’s great to have a player like James Rodriguez, and his confidence was very high after our previous game.”
The build up to the game had been dominated by the fall-out from Luis Suarez’s worldwide ban for biting Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini. Uruguay’s players gathered in the dressing room to take photos of themselves holding his shirt, while the entire country has remained defiant in the defense of its hero, said Fox2Now.
Colombia will have to play against the hosting team in Fortaleza on Friday, after Brazil defeated last 16 rivals Chile in penalty shootouts to set up an all-South American last eight match.
Goalkeeper Julio Cesar helped Brazil reach the quarterfinals with two crucial spot-kick saves to defeat Chile. David Luiz scored in the 18th minute to provide the hosts with the lead but before half time Chile’s Alexis Sanchez had scored the equaliser for his side.
Fortunately for Brazil, Cesar also saved penalties from Mauricio Pinilla and Alexis before Jara’s doomed attempt.
“We really suffered. It was pure emotion. My tears after the game were of happiness,” a limping Neymar said on his way out of the ground on Saturday evening.
“We know that it was not one of our best matches but the desire to win, and get through to the next round, was huge. It was the most I have ever suffered in football. Today I had everything. I took a knock, I had cramp. Now all I want to do is rest.”