Group C, Match 6
Colombia finished Group C with three wins from three as Jackson Martinez scored twice to seal a 4-1 win over Japan on Tuesday, reports Goal.com.
Jose Pekerman's side, so impressive in securing wins over Greece and Cote d'Ivoire earlier in the tournament, were already assured of qualification and knew a draw would be enough to secure their passage as group winners.
Japan, meanwhile, needed to win and hope the result between Cote d'Ivoire and Greece went their way in order to progress.
The South Americans hit the front shortly after the quarter-hour mark, Juan Cuadrado smashing home a penalty after Yasuyuki Konno had fouled Adrian Ramos.
Japan equalised on the stroke of half-time, Shinji Okazaki squeezing a header inside the near post to raise hopes of qualifying.
Yet Colombia then pulled clear in the second half, Jackson Martinez scoring twice following assists from half-time substitute James Rodriguez, who added a delightful late fourth.
Colombia will now take on Uruguay in the second round, while Japan exit the tournament having finished bottom of their group.
Japan made the stronger start as Colombia struggled to find their feet having made eight changes from their victory over Cote d'Ivoire.
However, it was the South Americans who went in front after 17 minutes, following their first real foray forward.
Konno needlessly brought down Ramos inside the area, and Cuadrado dispatched the spot-kick, prompting further choreographed celebrations from the Colombians.
Japan responded well, Shinji Kagawa creating space on the edge of the box before firing in a low shot which was tipped behind by David Ospina.
Keisuke Honda was the next man to go close, sending a dipping free kick narrowly wide of the right-hand post in the 33rd minute.
Colombia ought to have doubled their lead three minutes before the interval, Martinez firing wide of the target from 14 yards after being picked out by Ramos.
They were made to rue that miss soon afterwards, with Okazaki flicking home Honda's right-wing cross with the final touch of the half.
Half-time substitute Carlos Carbonero wasted a golden chance to restore Colombia's advantage in the 54th minute, stabbing the ball over the crossbar after a devilish ball in from fellow replacement James.
It mattered little as Martinez made it 2-1 a minute later, taking a touch and firing low beyond Eiji Kawashima after a nicely-weighted pass from James inside the area.
Eder Alvarez Balanta was perhaps lucky to escape punishment after his forearm struck the face of Okazaki in the corner, drawing blood from the nose of the Japan goalscorer.
Honda continued to pose a threat from set-pieces, bringing a save out of Ospina with a rasping free kick in the 64th minute.
Yoshito Okubo went close a minute later, meeting Atsuto Uchida's low cross at pace only to see his close-range effort fly over the bar.
Martinez doubled his tally eight minutes from time with a cool finish, and moments later Kagawa summed up a disappointing campaign for the Japanese by firing wide with just Ospina to beat from close range.
There was a notable moment five minutes before the end, as 43-year-old goalkeeper Faryd Mondragon - retiring after the tournament - was brought on in place of Ospina to become the oldest player in World Cup history.
James, one of the players of the tournament so far, showed his class in the 90th minute to round off the scoring, turning Maya Yoshida inside out and dinking an impudent finish over Kawashima, before Mondragon made an injury-time save to deny Yoichiro Kakitani.
Man of the Match: M Jackson (COL)
Match Commentary - as it happened
Full time in Cuiaba! Colombia light up the World Cup once again as they blow away Japan 4-1 to top Group C in style. A Juan Cuadrado penalty, two goals from Jackson Martinez, and a sublime finish from the imperious James Rodriguez ensure Jose Pekerman's outfit win three matches out of three. The South Americans now go on to face Uruguay on Saturday in the round of 16. Japan put in a decent effort, but have eventually slumped to a fourth place finish. We wary of Colombia, World Cup! I'm Martin Macdonald, thanks for joining us, see you next time!
90' + 1' Three minutes of added time here as the referee fails to put Japan out of their misery early.
89' Assist A. Ramos
89' Goal James Rodríguez
GOOOOOOAAAAAAALLLLL FOR COLOMBIA!! SENSATIONAL FROM JAMES RODRIGUEZ! The substitute breaks forward into the box and takes on the defender before wonderfully lifting the ball over the oncoming goalkeeper! What a player! Four-one!
88' Arias looks to get involved in the goalscoring action for Colombia as he receives a loose ball 30 yards out. He tries his luck with a distance strike but it goes way over the bar. Back to right-back he goes!
86' Last throw of the dice from Japan here as they make their final change. Shinji Kagawa comes off to be replaced by Hiroshi Kiyotake.
85' Substitution: Shinji Kagawa out, Hiroshi Kiyotake in.
85' Substitution: D. Ospina out, F. Mondragón in.
84' Now we have potentially one of the loveliest moments in the history of the World Cup. Colombia are withdrawing their goalkeeper, Ospina, for Faryd Mondragon, who is given six minutes of game time in order to become the oldest player to grace the World Cup finals at the age of 43. The Colombia fans sing his name as he comes on! Wonderful stuff!
82' Goal Jackson Martínez
79' As probably expected, Japan are dominating possession as they look to find first an equaliser then potentially a winner. However, they will need to be wary of the pacey Colombian counterattack, which has already undone Ivory Coast and Greece in the tournament so far!
77' Honda brilliantly edges away the challenge of Armero down the right wing before cutting inside on his left foot to find Yamaguchi. The substitute threads a pass down the left for Nagatomo who fires a cross into the box, but it is easily clears. The Inter wing-back's delivery hasn't always been the best tonight!
75' Zaccheroni's charges have just over 15 minutes to save their World Cup dream. They need to win this match by two clear goals now that Ivory Coast are drawing, so if a miracle is going to happen they need their first right about now!
73' In the other game in Group C Ivory Coast have EQUALISED against Greece. Wilfired Bony has popped up to make it 1-1 and put the African side into second place. Japan currently are bottom of the group, but there is still time for another twist in the tale!
71' This time Colombia DO manage to counterattack and it comes through Martinez on the left-hand side! The Porto man strides down the left and slides in to Ramos, who in turn finds Rodriguez. Some pin ball football ensues in the box and the South Americans get the corner!
69' Substitution: Shinji Okazaki out, Yoichiro Kakitani in.
67' Japan make their second change of the match as Okazaki is replaced by Kakatani. The players must be getting absolutely knackered now; the weather and humidity must be unbearable at times!
65' OKUBOOOOO!!! WE SHOULD BE ALL SQUARE! Japan instigate a lovely move down the right-hand side which eventually sees the 32-year-old meet the ball 12 yards out, but he smashes his strike a few yards over the bar! Fantastic opportunity spurned!
64' Honda manages to test Ospina with a driven free kick from 30 yards. It was a bit of a save for the cameras from the Colombian keeper, but effective nonetheless.
63' Yellow Card Fredy Guarín
63' Guarin is the first Colombian to go into the book and it hasn't to be said that's it's an awful decision from the ref. The Inter midfielder gets back to help out his defence and claws the ball cleanly away from the feet of the Japanese attacker, but somehow the official decides to blow for a foul.
62' Substitution: Toshihiro Aoyama out, Hotaru Yamaguchi in.
61' Balanta should be sent off here! The River Plate defender swings out an elbow and catches Okazaki straight in the face! The referee doesn't see it though, and he escapes punishment!
59' We've got a small break in play at the moment as Armero is currently down. Nagatomo got down the left and whipped a superb cross into the box for Okubo, but it was well cleared by Ospina. It the melee though the Colombian defender took a sore one in the back. He should be okay though.
57' Kagawaaaa! Unlucky!! Hasebe fizzes a pass into the feet of his team-mate on the edge of the box who takes a lovely touch past the defender. He just can't get enough purchase on his strike though, which is eventually screwed wide.
55' Assist James Rodríguez
55' Goal Jackson Martínez
GOOOOAAAALLLL GOOOAAAALLL GOOOAAAALLL FOR COLOMBIA! The South Americans reclaim their lead! Rodriguez bursts into the opposition box and cleverly inches a pass to the left for Martinez, who takes an assured touch before lashing a left-footed strike into the corner! Two-one!
54' CARBONERO!! IT SHOULD BE 2-1 COLOMBIA! Rodriguez whips in a sensational cross from a left wing free kick and his fellow substitute meets it at the back post, but he can't sort out his feet in time to hit the target!
52' Armero gallops down the left-hand side and charges down the challenge of Uchida. The ball breaks kindly to Martinez in the centre but the Porto man fails to react in time which allows Yoshida to clear into the stand. Superb play from the Napoli wing-back!
50' Rodriguuuuueezzz! He almost makes an immediate impact! The Monaco winger collects the ball on the right and cuts inside on to his favoured left-foot before fizzing a strike at goal, but his attempt is very well blocked by the retreating Aoyama.
48' A game of head tennis ensues just outside the Japanese box as both sides concede possession aerially. In the end it is Yoshida who ends the madness with a cushioned header back to the keeper.
46' Substitution: Juan Cuadrado out, Carlos Carbonero in.
46' Substitution: J. Quintero out, James Rodríguez in.
46' The second half is underway! A couple of changes to report for you at half time. Cuadrado and Quintero are withdrawn for James Rodriguez and Carlos Carbonero for Colombia.
What an end to the half! Japan looked down and out going into the break, but they equalise on the brink of half time to ignite this Group C clash! Cuadrado put Colombia ahead with a penalty kick but the Asian side enjoyed the majority of the possession, which eventually paid off when Okazaki scored his first goal of the World Cup with a superb header. A terrific second period in store!
45' + 2' Goal Shinji Okazaki
GOOOOOOOOOAAAAALLLLLL FOR JAPAN!!! THEY HAVE DID JUST THAT!! Honda clips a cross to the near post and Okazaki gets in front of his defender to glance a header into the corner! One-one!
45' + 1' Assist Keisuke Honda
45' One minute of injury time added. Zaccheroni's half time team talk will definitely be easier if Japan can grab an equaliser before the break here!
43' There is word coming through that Greece have went 1-0 against Ivory Coast. If the results stay the same, the European side would finish in second place, with Japan finishing last with one point. They need to raise their game to stay in this World Cup!
41' Extremely poor finish from Martinez. Ramos collects the ball in a useful position in the inside right channel and reverses a pass into the penalty area for his compatriot, who has plenty of time to find a corner but just lazily hooks a strike wide. Really disappointing.
39' Japan have been terribly wasteful from their corner kicks so far. They've certainly had plenty of them, with just about every single one being taken short, but the eventual pass or cross into the box has always been short or too deep.
37' A decent opportunity passed up for Colombia! Japan criminally give the ball away in their own half and the South Americans burst forward to take advantage. The ball eventually comes to Quintero, who has time and space to pick out his strike but horribly shanks an attempt wide of the mark.
35' It's probably a sign that the tempo of the match has just waned slightly that the fans have started a Japanese/Colombian version of the Mexican wave. A decent opening to the match has faded slightly as Japan look to navigate themselves back into contention.
33' Hondaaaaaa! Much, much better this time! The Japanese steps up and whips the free kick over the top of the wall but it just screws away from goal at the last minute and flies past the post. Ospina in goal probably had it covered anyway.
32' Hasebe wins the ball back in the middle of the park and slides a pass sideways to the advanced Yoshida, who takes a clever touch towards goal before being bundled over by Valdes. Honda with another set piece opportunity here...
30' That's wasteful from Guarin! Colombia actually had a two versus two up top with Jackson Martinez and Adrian Ramos looking for a pass over the top, but the attempted ball from the Inter star goes far too far and ends up going straight out for a goal kick. Disappointing.
28' The first third of the match as saw Japan definitely employ a long-ball tactic as they look to pick out the lone striker, Okubo. He's putting himself about up up but the passes have mainly been bread and butter for Balanta and Valdes.
26' Kagawaaaaa! Great save from Ospina! The Manchester United midfielder finds an inch of space inside the box and lashes a strike towards the bottom corner, but the Colombia keeper stretches a palm out to turn the attempt behind!
24' Japan also aren't doing Ivory Coast any favours here. In order for the African nation to claim top spot in Group C, they need Colombia to be defeated with a five-goal swing in terms of goal difference. Not looking likely.
22' Honda steps up to hit his second set-piece of the match but again it is disappointing as the free kick is hit straight into the wall. Japan will need something much better from the Milan forward if they are going to get back into this.
20' Japan look to recover quickly from going a goal down and burst forward down the middle on the counterattack. They earn a free kick on the edge of the area after Balanta is penalised for a late challenge.
18' That is a complete hammer blow to the chances of Japan. They were actually looking pretty decent in the final third in the opening stages, but they have been undone by one silly decision by a central defender. They've got a hell of a lot of work to do to save their World Cup.
17' Penalty Goal Juan Cuadrado
GOOOOOOAAAAAAALLLLLLLLL TO COLOMBIA!!! Cuadrado steps up and rifles his penalty straight down the middle! One-nil!
16' Yellow Card Yasuyuki Konno
15' PENALTY TO COLOMBIA!! Adrian Ramos breaks in behind the defence but initially takes a touch away from goal. It doesn't matter though, as Konno comes in with a rash challenge to concede the spotkick! Real daft tackle from the Japan defender!
13' UCHIDAAAAAA!!! That wasn't too far away! The right-back finds himself in an advanced position down the right and fizzes a strike towards the top corner! It takes a deflection on it's way through and just whistles by the past! Ospina was certainly scrambling to get across!
11' Japan, rather uncharacteristically, pump the ball deep into the box from defence but they benefit from it on this ocassion as the retreating Valdes is forced into heading behind for a corner kick. Not a lot of height in the Japanese ranks, so we'll see how they fair from set pieces.
9' Okubo receives the ball to feet inside the box and and attempts to find a yard of space before having a crack with a left-footed strike. It lacks a little pace though, and ends up being comfortably blocked by Balanta, who clears out of defence.
7' That's lovely from Martinez! The Porto striker collects the ball in midfield before leaving a couple of Japan players for dead with a beautiful Marseille turn! Colombia now move the ball up the park down the left flank.
6' On this occasion though, the David Ospina in the Colombia goal easily collects out of the air as Honda's free kick takes a deflection on it's way through, which takes the sting out of the attempt.
5' Hasebe looks to break forward from midfield but is rather stupidly tripped up by Guarin as Colombia concede the foul about 30 yards from goal. Honda fancies this one, and we know he has the quality to trouble the keeper...
4' The South Americans are looking the more dangerous side in the opening stages, but neither nation has been dominant in possession as of yet. Quite a frantic pace being played in the Cuiaba heat! Let's see how long it keeps up!
3' Colombia showing no signs of letting up in their tempo which has been set in the competition thus far. Ramos, Martinez, Quintero, and Cuadrado have all been involved so far as they look to grab an early goal.
2' Nagatomo typically stretches his legs down the left-hand side and looks to latch on to a pass over the top from Hasebe. It's good covering from Arias though, who sees the ball out for a goal kick.
1' The match is under way in Cuiaba!
As expected, Pekerman has rung the changes in anticipation of the second round. Eight changes in total, with the most notable being the omission of Rodriguez. Cuadrado starts though, with Jackson Martinez and Adrian Ramos also featuring in the first XI.
Colombia (4-4-2): Ospina; Arias, Balanta, Valdes, Armero; Cuadrado, Guarin, Alex Mejia, Quintero; Jackson Martinez, Adrian Ramos.
Japan (4-2-3-1): Kawashima; Uchida, Yoshida, Konno, Nagatomo; Aoyama, Hasebe; Okazaki, Honda, Kagawa; Okubo.
Pekerman will be hoping that no complacency creeps into the ranks of his squad tonight. In the unlikely event they surrender first place, they will face a highly impressive Costa Rica side in the second round, who have already successfully dispatched Italy and Uruguay at this World Cup. If they can see out the result and go out as group winners, they will face the South Americans, who may be without Luis Suarez after the Liverpool striker's recent indescretion involving Giorgio Chiellini.
Indeed, 2014 is the first World Cup in which Colombia have won more than once. Quite a special batch of players coming through at the moment for Los Cafeteros!
Rodriguez and Juan Cuadrado have lit up the World Cup so far with their contributions to pacey Colombian counterattacks, and will certainly be on the radar of any potential opponents in the latter stages. Just two games in, the Fiorentina wing-back already has more assists at a single World Cup that any other Colombian since 1966. His compatriot, meanwhile, has two goals in consecutive matches in the competition so far which makes him the first player from his country to achieve this in 20 years.
Japan, on the other hand, have been massively disappointing so far in Brazil. The Samurai Blue surrendered a one-goal lead in their first match to lose 2-1 and then could not break down a 10-man Greece to draw 0-0 in a dour fixture in Estadio das Dunas. The Asian Cup holders headed to the tournament with perhaps the biggest expectations from any side from the continent, but have been sub-par to say the least. However, they still have an outside chance of progressing to the last-16. If they can combine a victory tonight with a win for Ferndando Santos' side against Ivory Coatst in the other fixture, they will pip the African outfit to second place by a point.
Colombia find themselves top of the group after coming off two impressive opening World Cup matches. Greece were brushed aside in emphatic fashion with a 3-0 win before two goals within 10 minutes from James Rodriguez and Juan Quintero sealed a 2-1 victory over Cote d'Ivoire.
Jose Pekerman's outfit head into the match tonight with their qualification to the second round secure, but still must be wear of Cote d'Ivoire, who can still top the group in the fairly unlikely event of a five goal turnaround in terms of goal difference. The African side face Greece in the other Group C match tonight, which will be played out simultaneously.
Commentary & Report: Goal dot com