Group C, Match 3
Colombia put themselves in the driving seat of World Cup Group C with the victory over the Ivory Coast Thursday, Goal.com reports.
Following a first-half that was low on goalmouth action, the match burst into life in the final 30 minutes.
James Rodriguez set the ball rolling with a powerful header from a Juan Cuadrado corner in the 64th minute, before Juan Quintero doubled the advantage six minutes later.
Gervinho pulled one back for Cote d'Ivoire 17 minutes from time, but it proved to be mere consolation for the African outfit.
Ivory Coast created a number of late openings but Colombia captain Mario Yepes, playing in his 100th international was supreme throughout, repelling everything thrown at him.
The result sends Colombia three points clear at the top of the group, and will be assured of their place in the second round if Greece fail to beat Japan later in Thursday's action.
The unchanged Colombians had the better of the early chances - Teofilo Gutierrez sending a half-volley wide of the right-hand post from the edge of the penalty area.
The Ivorians, meanwhile, were struggling to get the likes of Wilfried Bony, Gervinho and Max Gradel into the game, though Cheick Tiote drilled over the crossbar 25 minutes in as they got a rare sight of goal.
The best chance of the opening period came for the South Americans three minutes later.
Gutierrez found himself in acres of space in the centre of the Ivorian box, but could only scuff clumsily wide of the left-hand upright when he was delivered the ball on a plate by Rodriguez.
Serge Aurier's low drive at the other end forced goalkeeper David Ospina into a diving save shortly after the half-hour mark, before Gradel went down in the area in search of a penalty under the challenge of Cristian Zapata.
Howard Webb – refereeing his first World Cup match since the 2010 final – was having none of it.
Victor Ibarbo failed to get the ball out from under his feet as he tried to set up a shooting angle at the beginning of the second half, before Yaya Toure curled a free-kick well wide of the target at the other end from a promising position.
Didier Zokora then surrendered his place in Tuesday’s meeting with Greece by picking up a booking for a clumsy challenge on Cuadrado.
The Fiorentina man came agonisingly close to putting Colombia in front on the hour, firing an effort across goal only to see it touched onto the post by Boubacar Barry.
Barry was not so fortunate next time, however, as his touch was not enough to keep out Rodriguez’s powerful header from a Cuadrado corner.
And the match appeared to be all but won six minutes later as Quintero found the space to slot beyond Barry.
However, Cote d'Ivoire were right back in it in the 74th minute when Gervinho burst into the box to power an effort into the back of the net, Ospina unable to keep the effort out despite getting a glove to the ball.
It would prove to be the Africans' only goal of the encounter, leaving them sweating on a place in the next round, with Greece to face in their final group fixture.
Colombia's last match will be against Japan, but they may already be through by then.
Man of the Match: James Rodriguez (COL)
Match Commentary - as it happened
Webb blows his whistle to end a fantastic second half, which Colombia edged. Both sides pressed for the win in an even encounter, but few would argue that the better side didn't win. Although he wasn't at his creative best, James netted the opener, before substitute Quintero added the second in a composed manner. Soon after, Gervinho pulled one back in delightful fashion, but it wasn't enough. Colombia will qualify for the next round if Greece fail to win against Japan, while Ivory Coast still have a chance of joining them.
90` + 5` FULL-TIME!
90` + 3` Almost a huge error by Yepes as he fails to control an easy backpass, allowing Drogba to chase the ball down when one-on-one. Ospina, however, is rapid off his line and makes an important tackle to bail out his captain.
90` + 1` There will be four minutes added here.
90` Yellow Card for Cheikh Tiote
89` The free-kick is fired into the centre, but the ball takes a deflection off a Colombian head and then hits Drogba in the face.
88` Great player by Bolly as he destroys Arias will a brilliant show of pace, charging past the substitute before drawing a cynical foul from the PSV man.
87` We are having a break in play now as Yepes seeks medical attention. Colombia will be desperate for him to continue having already made their three changes.
85` Colombia are just waiting for the chance to launch a textbook counterattack. James and Quintero took the attack forward through the middle and the former then tried to play a one-two with Gutierrez, but the return pass was hit straight at Bamba.
83` Aurier is involved again in an attacking capacity as he roams forward and crosses into the box, but Bolly's stooping header goes well over Ospina's goal.
81` This is all Ivory Coast now. Lamouchi's men are pressing with great intensity and are piling men forward, but that major chance for an equaliser has not arrived yet.
79` Substitution: A. Aguilar OUT, A. Mejía IN
79` Positive play by Aurier as he confidently takes the ball forward from the back, playing a one-two with Kalou, before continuing his advancing run. Eventually the reported Arsenal target tries to slip Bolly in to his right, but the forward didn't look totally aware.
77` Almost a chance for Drogba! Boka got forward well down the left, evading Zuniga before crossing into the centre. Drogba looked destined to make a connection, but the former Chelsea man couldn't quite reach it, much to the relief of Yepes.
75` This match really has burst into life in the second half. After the first half, even getting one goal looked implausible, but both sides have looked dangerous going forward since the break.
73` Goal: Gervinho
GOAL!!! IVORY COAST PULL ONE BACK! Gervinho does brilliantly as he cuts inside Zuniga while breaking into the area. The Roma man then skips past Zapata and rifles in to round off a fine individual effort.
73` Substitution: G. Serey Die OUT, M. Bolly IN
72` Substitution: Pablo Armero OUT, S. Arias IN
70` Goal J. Quintero
GOAL!!! COLOMBIA DOUBLE THEIR LEAD! Ivory Coast waste an opportunity of their own at one end with a corner, and then they gift possession to their opponents back in their own half. Gutierrez intercepts a pass in the middle of the Africans' half, surges forward and then slips a pass into the area for Quintero, who slots away with composure.
69` Aurier does well down the right as he finds space and then crosses in towards the near post. Ospina claws it out and puts it behind for a corner.
68` Yaya Toure strikes it, with Drogba also in the area, but the ball flies straight into the strong Colombian wall. The danger isn't gone yet, though, with Ivory Coast putting them under pressure.
67` Substitution: Max-Alain Gradel OUT, Salomon Kalou IN
67` Aguilar gives away another free-kick in a dangerous area as he trips Drogba up about 25 yards from goal. Alarm bells should be ringing for Colombia right now. Meanwhile, Kalou replaces Gradel.
66` Colombia started the second half poorly and looked lazy, but for the last ten minutes they have been excellent, with Cuadrado driving them forward in brilliant fashion.
64` Goal James Rodríguez
GOAL!!! COLOMBIA TAKE THE LEAD! Cuadrado produces a fine deliver from the corner and James, one of the smaller players on the pitch, meets it following a clever run from deep, heading the ball past the helpless Barry.
64` Goal: James Rodríguez
63` Encouraging moment for Colombia. James manages to keep the ball in on the left, hooking a long ball over the defence for Gutierrez, but Zokora knocks it behind.
61` Brilliant play again by Cuadrado, this time as he pops up on the left flank. He cleverly skips his way around Aurier before drilling into the danger area, but Ivory Coast just about manage to clear.
60` Substitution: Wilfried Bony OUT, Didier Drogba IN
58` Almost a huge error by Armero! The left-back's control on the edge of his own area is dreadful and Gradel pounces, but Yepes is there to make the recovering challenge, bailing his team-mate out of trouble.
56` Good opening for Ivory Coast! Toure crosses from deep on the right, aiming for Bony at the far post. The forward tries to twist his body around and unleash an overhead-kick, but he can't quite get contact with the ball.
55` Yellow Card Didier Zokora
54` Toure steps up to the free-kick and tries to curl an effort into the top-right corner, but the attempt flies well wide of the goal.
53` Substitution: Víctor Ibarbo out, J Quintero in
53` Good feet by Toure take the ball forward all the way to the edge of the Colombia area, before dropping a shoulder and cruising past Aguilar. Toure is tripped, however and wins a free-kick.
51` Dangerous cross in from the right by Cuadrado as he holds off Boka, before squeezing a delivery in towards the near post. The ball is deflected and Barry can't deal with it, but the ricochet also took it out of Gutierrez's path.
50` Good movement by Gervinho as the Roma winger charges on to a clever reverse pass by Aurier and then skips past Yepes. However, his touch takes the ball out of play, while Yepes is unhappy with the ex-Arsenal man's flop to the floor. There were no claims for a penalty, though.
49` The free-kick is fired into the danger zone by Toure, but Ospina comes out, pats the ball down to the floor and catches, all unchallenged.
48` Cynical foul by Zapata as he moves into the path of the rampaging Gervinho, knocking him to the floor when in full-flight. The defender escapes a booking, but Ivory Coast do have a free-kick.
47` Risky play by Bamba as he receives a backpass from Boka, but instead of clearing he tries to cleverly deceive Gutierrez by letting it run. The Colombian isn't fooled and almost steals the ball to run through on goal, but Bamba recovers, luckily for him.
46` Colombia get the second half started.
Referee Webb blows his whistle to end an entertaining, if frustrating, first half. Both sides played the ball around well and produced some eye-catching football, with the Colombians looking particularly dangerous on the break. However, clear-cut chances have been rare. Gutierrez was presented with one glorious chance following a James cross, but he inexplicably screwed wide and it ultimately remained goalless.
45` + 1` HALF-TIME!
45` There will be one minute of added time.
44` Tentative penalty claims for Ivory Coast as Gradel gets in behind Zapata and proceeds to tumble to the floor in the area. The Colombian defender isn't impressed and vents his frustration in the winger's direction before walking off.
42` Colombia continue to probe, however. They are taking their time with the build-up as they knock the ball around their defence, but then Zapata fires an aimless smash up field, which is easily mopped up by Ivory Coast.
40` Half-time is approaching now, with time running out to go into the break with the lead. Although both sides have played plent of eye-catching football, clear-cut chances have been very infrequent.
38` The Ivory Coast corner comes to nothing as the ball is cleared to Cuadrado. The tricky wingers evades a challenge, bursts clear and then picks out a long pass to left wing. James brings it down and then hooks a lofted pass into the area for Gutierrez, but the forward fouls Bamba.
36` Lamouchi's men are very confident and comfortable on the ball. Again they hold Colombia back in their own penalty area, but they are forced to settle for a corner as Tiote's long-range effort is deflected behind.
34` Here is another example of Toure charging through tackles at will. This time he held off two challenges and then skipped past Armero as well, but Sanchez got back, bundled him over and took the ball.
33` Lovely feet on the edge of the Colombia area by Gradel, as the Saint-Etienne winger produces a stepover and then jolts to the right to beat Yepes. He gets a left-footed shot away, but Ospina saves down to his left.
32` Colombia are not dealing well with Toure so far. The Manchester City man is looking imperious in the centre, routinely picking out passes down the flanks or surging through the middle.
30` Lively move put together by Ivory Coast in the Colombia half, but Gervinho can't quite reach the return pass from Bony after attempting a one-two. He chases Zuniga, but the defender smashes the ball out of play.
28` HUGE MISS BY GUTIERREZ! James does brilliantly down the left flank and the Monaco man draws two defenders out to deal with him. He finally squeezes a cross into the danger area, where Gutierrez is unmarked, but the River star misses his kick and skews wide.
27` Colombia have so far struggled to unleash the free-flowing style they displayed against Greece, with Ivory Coast looking a far better side Fernando Santos' men so far.
25` Goal-scoring chances have not been frequent so far and Tiote feels confident of getting lucky from distance, but his left-footed strike from at least 30 yards sails well over the crossbar.
23` Another set-piece is wasted by Colombia as Ivory Coast's physical defence again easily deals with a corner. A counterattack appears to be brewing as Gervinho carries the ball into the Colombia half, but his cross attempt is blocked and the attack ends.
21` Serey Die is fuming as he appears to fairly win the ball off the daydreaming Zuniga before looking to charge towards the Colombia penalty area. However, referee Howard Webb penalised the midfielder.
19` Free-kick to Colombia towards the right flank as Cuadrado is sent tumbling by Tiote, but James' delivery is cleared by the combination of Bamba and Zokora. The assistant then raises his flag for an offside.
17` Ivory Coast deal with the initial ball from the corner, but they are slow to close Carlos Sanchez down about 30 yards from goal. The Elche man tries his luck from distance, but Barry plucks it out of the air.
16` Excellent play by Cuadrado as he picks up possession just inside his own half, passes to Gutierrez and then chases down a throughball played up the wing. He eventually collects after breezing past Boka, but Zokora knocks his cross behind for a corner.
15` James is threatening to cause some significant damage in attack, but so far his attempts to find Gutierrez with his give-and-go passes have been unsuccessful. He will continue looking for those, though.
13` Brilliant skill by Zuniga down the right wing as he forces Gervinho all the way back to the goal line. The full-back then produces a two-touch drag-back, putting the ball between the winger's legs. However, it goes out of play just before he can collect and cross.
12` Encouraging pressure for Ivory Coast as they first have a corner - which is ultimately cleared - and the Ospina is forced to punch away a probing free-kick. It seems the players were made aware of my request to open proceedings up. They're obliging at the moment!
10` Ivory Coast are straight back down the other end, though, with Gervinho causing trouble. He attacks Zuniga, beating him as he cuts in on to his right foot. However, instead of crossing he tries to cut back down the flank and on to his left foor and the Colombia right-back recovers.
9` Lovely move by Colombia! Zuniga, James and Cuadrado linked up with a series of intricate passes on the right, before the latter charged into the penalty area. The Fiorentina tries to square into the danger area for Gutierrez, but Zokora made a crucial interception.
8` Brief pause in play now as a huge inflatable ball has strayed on to the pitch. James tries to pop it by stamping on it, but he fails and subsequently walks it off the pitch.
6` And there were have it, the first shot! James did well to latch on to a long ball from the back, flicking it back and out of the area for Gutierrez, who hit a half-volley just wide of the target.
5` Cagey start to this. Both sides are standing off each other, allowing plenty of possession to defenders. Hopefully things will open up soon.
3` There is a glimpse of a potentially encouraging route to goal for Ivory Coast. Bamba launches a long ball from the back down the left flank for the attack-minded Boka, but it is just a little too heavy.
Ivory Coast subs: Viera, Toure, Bolly, Akpa Akpro, Kalou, Drogba, Diomande, Gbohouo, Djakpa, Sio, Sayouba.
Ivory Coast (4-3-3): Barry; Aurier, Zokora, Bamba, Boka; Serey, Tiote, Toure; Gradel, Bony, Gervinho.
Colombia subs: Mondragon, Vargas, Arias, Carbonero, Guarin, Mejia, Alvarez Balanta, Ramos, Quintero, Martinez.
Colombia (4-2-3-1): Ospina; Zuniga, Zapata, Yepes, Armero; Aguilar, Sánchez; Cuadrado, James Rodriguez, Ibarbo; Gutierrez.
The two teams are now out on the pitch as we await their respective national anthems.
Commentary & Report: Goal dot com