• Sunday, December 28, 2014

Freedom in the air

James double sends Uruguay packing

The Monaco star scored arguably the goal of the tournament so far as Oscar Tabarez's men were dumped out of the tournament

James Rodriguez of Colombia scores his team's second goal and his second of the game past goalkeeper Fernando Muslera of Uruguay during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil round of 16 match between Colombia and Uruguay at Maracana on June 28, 2014 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Photo: Getty Images
 
James Rodriguez of Colombia scores his team's second goal and his second of the game past goalkeeper Fernando Muslera of Uruguay during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil round of 16 match between Colombia and Uruguay at Maracana on June 28, 2014 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Photo: Getty Images

James Rodriguez scored twice - his first a stunning volley - to fire Colombia to a 2-0 win over Uruguay and secure a place in the quarter-finals of the World Cup, Goal.com reports.

His unstoppable 28th-minute strike on the turn is arguably the goal of the tournament so far, and he followed that up with a close range effort in the second period to end the game as a contest.

Colombia dominated possession in a nervy opening, although they were mainly limited to shots from distance against a Uruguay side without star man Luis Suarez on the back of his four-month suspension.

Oscar Tabarez's men appeared content to sit deep but their resistance was broken when Rodriguez produced a spontaneous moment of brilliance to light up the match.

A lofted header back towards the Celeste penalty area was chested down on the turn by the Monaco man, who then swivelled and struck the ball first time on the volley into the top left-hand corner.

Stunned into action - with the rest of the stadium still taking in that wonder strike - Uruguay sought a swift response and Edinson Cavani found space on the left before his teasing cross was headed away by Carlos Sanchez.

Despite the improvement, Uruguay's task became even more difficult in the 50th minute as Rodriguez doubled his tally.

Colombia worked the ball from right to left and Pablo Armero put in a wonderful cross to the back post, where Juan Cuadrado unselfishly nodded the ball down and back into the path of the youngster, who swept home from close range for his fifth of the tournament.

Uruguay desperately needed a quick goal and Cristian Rodriguez forced a fine stop from Ospina with an accurate left-footed shot that would have found the top corner but for the goalkeeper's intervention, before Cavani flicked a header just over the crossbar in the 70th minute.

The Paris Saint-Germain forward went close again with a low-angled drive late on but Uruguay's pressure was comfortably soaked up, as Colombia stormed into the quarter-finals.

THE MATCH, AS IT HAPPPENED

90' + 4' FINAL WHISTLE! Colombia are through, Uruguay dumped out!

90' + 3' Uruguay make a last, fleeting surge forward to try to force what, at this point, will be no more than a consolation. But they can't even get the ball effectively into the box and it goes out for a throw in. That sparks a roar from the Colombian fans who know that it's so close...

90' THREE MINUTES to go in this one as the fourth official holds the board up on the sidelines. Godin protests a free kick but it falls on deaf ears. Little matter with the game just about up. Colombia are moments away from going farther than they ever have before in the World Cup!

88' It's all but over from Uruguay's point of view. They're getting increasingly desperate, pumping the ball into the area whenever they can but it reeks of a side without a plan. Colombia are dealing with everything quite comfortably and their fans know that victory is on hand.

86' Some quarreling between Yepes and Godin following a Uruguay corner. They were both wrestling to get on the end of a corner and the Atletico Madrid just managed to sneak up for a header that was sent harmlessly wide. Some pushing and shoving followed, but nothing serious.

85' Substitution James Rodríguez A. Ramos

82' Off goes Cuadrado to a rapturous reception from the Colombia fans inside the Maracana. He's been excellent today, dribbling his way into many dangerous positions and setting up that second Rodriguez goal with an unlikely header. On comes Inter's Fredy Guarin for the final stretch.

81' Substitution Juan Cuadrado Fredy Guarín

81' PEREIRA WITH A FANTASTIC CHANCE! That probably registers as Uruguay's best opening of the night but they fail to profit. Maxi Pereira finally comes through with a bonafide wingback play, making a late run into the box from a wide position to force an excellent save from Ospina at the near post!

80' Armero was certainly to blame there, but Lugano is the man to be booked first for his complaints on the touchline. Little more than a ceremonial booking as it's unlikely that there will be a next time for Uruguay. After some delay, the referee finally points the finger at Armero and books him as well.

78' Yellow Card for Pablo Armero

78' Armero and go down in a scrappy heap right in front of the benches on the touchline. The Colombia left back tried a cheeky bit of gamesmanship, poking the ball away from Ramirez just before he hits a free kick, and Ramirez retaliates with a challenge.

77' Yellow Card for Diego Lugano

76' Colombia are edging closer to a quarter final date with Brazil. They're packing two banks of yellow shirts between Uruguay and Ospina. One way traffic, but Colombia are bottle-necking it where it counts. Getting harder to see a way back for Uruguay.

74' MOMENT OF HESITATION! For one second, Ospina misjudges a looping ball headed towards his far post but takes the safety first route and tips it over the crossbar instead of risking a catch. It was Stuani who let loose with that ball and he has a cheeky smile to himself as he witnessed the keeper struggle.

72' Jackson Martinez is now doing it alone up front, closing down the opposition centre backs lest they up and join this late Uruguay siege in the opposition half. To their credit, Colombia are doing excellently at limiting Uruguay to little more than speculative attempts from long distance.

70' It's been all Uruguay in the last few minutes but they've lacked almost all of the drive and purpose shown by their opponents when it comes to the final third. Cavani tries to get something going, once again attacking the ball from out wide, but his cross is defended well by Sanchez.

68' Substitution: Teófilo Gutiérrez OUT, A. Mejía IN

68' Changes coming for both sides now. Colombia make their first swap of the match, bringing on Alex Mejia for Teofilo Gutierrez in a move designed to add more protection to their midfield. Uruguay swap out Alvaro Gonzalez for Abel Hernandez to add another body up front.

67' Substitution Alvaro Gonzalez Abel Hernández

66' THAT'S BETTER! Ospina is called into action once again, this time to stop a dangerous effort from Rodriguez. The Atletico Madrid man looked like he wanted to take on the whole of the Maracana on that run, skipping past four players before testing the Colombia keeper.

64' Perhaps Uruguay finally beginning to show a bit of urgency. 'What we have, we hold' seems to be the mantra of the moment from Colombia, who are starting to invite pressure on themselves by lessening their once suffocating pressing approach.

62' Cuadrado wins an untidy free kick inside the Uruguay half. He left Godin in an ungainly heap on the floor with a lightning quick change of direction, before Rios returned the favour with an unapologetic shoulder barge. Took one for the team there, did Rios.

Uruguay's midfielder Gaston Ramirez (L) vies with Colombia's forward Jackson Martinez, during the Round of 16 football match between Colombia and Uruguay at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro during the 2014 FIFA World Cup on June 28, 2014. Photo: Getty Images
Uruguay's midfielder Gaston Ramirez (L) vies with Colombia's forward Jackson Martinez, during the Round of 16 football match between Colombia and Uruguay at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro during the 2014 FIFA World Cup on June 28, 2014. Photo: Getty Images

60' For just the second time this game, Ospina is made to work by Uruguay. But this time, it's a shot that you wouldn't expect the keeper to have too much difficulty dealing with. Gonzalez lined one up from 20 yards with his left boot, but Ospina was able to see it all the way into his grasp.

58' Rodriguez comes off worse for wear in a challenge with Cavani when the Uruguay striker trod on his toes mid-spin completely unintentionally, mind. I have to say that Cavani has been terribly underwhelming in this game. He's really not shown a thing in the second half but then again, neither has anyone else on his team.

56' Gimenez gives away a free kick near the edge of the area in a position that is attracting the interest of a few in yellow - the same colour of the card shown to the Uruguay defender. Only one man looks likely to take this though. Rodriguez indeed steps forward but in a rather anti-climatic moment, he slams it into the first defender.

55' Yellow Card for J. Giménez

54' Double change now from Tabarez. It was a dreadfully disappointing return to the world stage for Diego Forlan and he departs for Christian Stuani. Alvaro Pereira, who has been moving rather gingerly, is sacrificed for Gaston Ramirez - a left wingback off for a left winger.

53' Substitution Á. Pereira OUT, G. Ramírez IN

53' Substitution: Diego Forlán OUT, Stuani IN

52' Uruguay have to dig deep now. This game is slipping away from them fast. Rodriguez now has five goals in the tournament to go along with three assists. Player of the World Cup so far, no doubt. Cuadrado also deserves a mention - he just chipped in with his fourth assist in as many games.

50' Goal James Rodríguez

A splendidly worked goal from Los Cafeteros! Working the ball from right to left, Armero is freed on the overlap by Martinez to swing a dangerous cross to the far post. Cuadrado makes an almighty leap to head the ball across the face of goal, where Rodriguez is on hand to smash it in!

50' COLOMBIA HAVE TWO AND IT'S HIM AGAIN!

48' Colombia win a corner after Rodriguez's free kick was just about taken off the head of Yepes in the area via a Uruguayan head. Los Cafeteros have started the second half like they did the first - completely in control of possession and penning Uruguay back.

47' No changes at the break from either manager. Colombia remember are unbeaten in their last 10 games, winning four straight since drawing with Senegal back in May. It's going to take a big effort from Uruguay to get themselves back into contention here.

46' Here we go again! Colombia are 45 minutes away from facing Brazil in the quarter finals. Uruguay have a game to chase.

FIRST HALF

45' + 2' That's it for the first half.

45' + 1' Into the first and only minute of added time. The first half has flown by with not a whole lot of stoppages. Tabarez will probably be eager to get his players in for a word. His side have improved towards the end and he hopefully has a plan to turn their recent advantage into a goal or two.

44' Colombia have shown that they can defend when they need to. Uruguay have held the vast majority of possession in last few sequences, with much of it concentrated around the penalty area. But the defensive line has held firm and forced the action towards the wide margins of the box. There's not a lot of space for La Celeste to operate.

42' You have to credit Uruguay, who have shown some urgency in their play since falling behind. There's far more purpose about their attacks. Perhaps the key point is that both Pereira's have been pushing forward, playing far more like wingbacks in the last few minutes.

A general view shows the training of football teams prior to the Round of 16 football match between Colombia and Uruguay at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro during the 2014 FIFA World Cup on June 28, 2014. Photo: Getty Images
A general view shows the training of football teams prior to the Round of 16 football match between Colombia and Uruguay at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro during the 2014 FIFA World Cup on June 28, 2014. Photo: Getty Images

40' OSPINA CALLED INTO ACTION! For the first time tonight, the Colombia keeper is made to earn his corn. Through a sea of blue and yellow shirts, Gonzalez hits a well-taken volley that somehow manages to sneak through to the target, but Ospina reacts well to thwart the shot to his right.

38' The fires flare up for a second as Forlan and Yepes get into it inside the Colombia penalty area. Alvaro Pereira had swung in a threatening cross and the two tussled unsuccessfully to make contact with it. Forlan's complaining of an illegal block, but the referee just tells him to calm down.

36' Just saw Rodriguez's goal again on the replay and my goodness, do yourself a favour and catch that on the highlights at least a few times after the match! It beats Van Persie's header and in my opinion, probably ranks an inch below Tim Cahill's volley as the strike of the tournament so far!

Egidio Arevalo Rios of Uruguay and Abel Aguilar of Colombia compete for the ball during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil round of 16 match between Colombia and Uruguay at Maracana on June 28, 2014 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Photo: Getty Images
Egidio Arevalo Rios of Uruguay and Abel Aguilar of Colombia compete for the ball during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil round of 16 match between Colombia and Uruguay at Maracana on June 28, 2014 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Photo: Getty Images

34' NOT FAR WIDE FROM CAVANI! Cristian Rodriguez wins a free kick in a splendid position thanks to Aguilar's foul and the former Napoli striker steps up to take responsibility. He gets plenty of pace and dip on it, but it's about a foot away from rippling the back of the net!

32' VITAL touch from Sanchez! Cavani had broken into an inch of space down the left and he whipped in a devilish ball to the far post! Cristian Rodriguez was barreling into position to surely lash a header in, but with the slightest of flicks, the Colombia midfielder takes the ball off his head!

30' Well, Tabarez must have been pleased with the defensive effort of his team up until that point. But how do you even begin to plan for a moment of audacity and genius like that? And what about James Rodriguez, lighting up this World Cup with his FOURTH goal! And that may be the pick of them all - not just from his collection but for the entire tournament!

28' Goal James Rodríguez

Magnificent goal from Rodriguez! It seemed to be nothing but head tennis at the top of the Uruguay box. But when the ball looped his way, he took one touch on his chest, spun on a sixpence and SMASHED it into the roof of the net from 18 yard!

27' SCRATCH THAT! WHAT A STRIKE FROM RODRIGUEZ!

25' It's been so dogged at the back for Uruguay. From Cavani all the way down to Godin, they're closing down to a man. Colombia meanwhile are biding their time, playing patiently and waiting for that gap to appear. Rodriguez is demanding the ball at every turn, but he's not sparked yet...

23' Zuniga's certainly not bashful in the slightest when it comes to having a go at goal. He flashes a free kick well wide of the target. That's his third attempt by my count. For a right back in the first 20 or so minutes of the game that's a lot, even for one as offensively minded as the Napoli man.

21' Colombia are starting to turn the screw in the attacking third. Zuniga sees a snap shot blocked, before confusion from a set piece sees Jackson Martinez just miss getting proper contact on the ball from a good position at the far post. A few nervy moments there.

19' Colombia look worried for a second as Uruguay go direct. Godin lofts a deep ball forward for Cavani who manages to get a tough - but it's not enough to keep the ball from rolling out for a goalkick. Don't expect that to be the only time we see such a route one approach from La Celeste.

17' Not to much to talk about in terms of chances so far, but it's perhaps to be expected. Uruguay were probably the underdogs coming into this game and almost certainly take that tag given the direction of play so far. They're playing almost exclusively on the counter.

15' Colombia are pressing high up the pitch, not giving Uruguay any route forward. They're practically forcing the Uruguay 3-5-2 formation into a 5-3-2, with the two Pereira's on the flanks defending very deep. We saw this suffocating approach from Colombia at times in the group stages.

13' You would be forgiven for glancing at the stands and thinking that Colombia have an overwhelming majority of the support. But man of these fans are Rio natives, with their yellow Selecao kits blending almost seamlessly with those of Colombia, at least to the casual observer.

11' Zuniga makes a darting run infield and draws a stop out of Muslera - though the shot was so weak that you would expect the keeper to eat that up for breakfast. With Uruguay employing two wingbacks just in front of a three man defence, there might be some space in unorthodox areas for him and Armero on the opposite flank.

A general view shows the training of football teams prior to the Round of 16 football match between Colombia and Uruguay at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro during the 2014 FIFA World Cup on June 28, 2014. Photo: Getty Images
A general view shows the training of football teams prior to the Round of 16 football match between Colombia and Uruguay at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro during the 2014 FIFA World Cup on June 28, 2014. Photo: Getty Images

9' Forlan clips a free kick into the area that is easily headed away by the towering figure of Zapata. The former Atletico Madrid man will undoubtedly be key for La Celeste tonight playing just off Cavani. His unerring accuracy from set pieces will be fascinating to observe.

7' It's really been all Colombia in the opening exchanges. They've held almost all of the ball - though there's been some strongarm tactics from Uruguay already that have drawn a few complaints from the men in yellow. We probably won't have to wait too long for a booking.

5' Cuadrado has had a superb tournament, and the Fiorentina dribbling kind does what he does best. He shows great footwork to skip away from two markers to get free down the right hand side. Pereira, not for the first time, gets a meaty challenge in to concede a foul.

3' Dutch referee Bjorn Kuipers is the lead official tonight. He's had his fair share of big games recently, taking charge of both the 2013 Confederations Cup final and the recent Champions League final in Lisbon. Fifa pulled out the big officiating guns today, with Howard Webb also taking charge of the earlier Brazil-Chile clash.

1' Here we go!

For Colombia, tonight's match bears significantly more sobering relevance. We're four days shy of the murder of their former defender Andres Escobar. Many fans will remember his own goal against Colombia that saw them lose to USA in the 1994 World Cup. Six days later in Medellin, he was tragically assassinated in a hit widely believed to have been orchestrated by drug cartels.

Uruguay return to the sight of their most revered footballing moment. The Maracana was the venue when, in 1950, they stunned the world by upsetting heavily fancied Brazil 2-1 in the final. That result still looms like a cursed spirit around the entire nation - the Maracanazo is the name given to that cursed day in Brazilian football.

A general view shows the training of football teams prior to the Round of 16 football match between Colombia and Uruguay at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro during the 2014 FIFA World Cup on June 28, 2014. Photo: Getty Images
A general view shows the training of football teams prior to the Round of 16 football match between Colombia and Uruguay at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro during the 2014 FIFA World Cup on June 28, 2014. Photo: Getty Images

Brazil lie in wait at the quarter final stage for whoever navigates this tie. That's not quite as intimidating of a prospect as it once seemed though. The Selecao escaped by the SKIN of their teeth against Chile earlier in the day, needing penalties and probably a sacrifice to the woodwork gods to win.

It's also time for Edinson Cavani to lay the smack down. Suarez isn't playing, so the attacking spotlight falls on the PSG striker. He's often been forced to do the dirty work up front to accomodate the Liverpool man. But tonight, he's the first option offensively. With a €64.5 million price tag on his head, the hour has come for him to live up to his billing as one of the world's best strikers.

Key then will be the performance of Diego Godin. In a back three with the raw 19-year-old defender Jose Gimenez and the unpredictable Martin Caceres, he needs to marshal his troops against a dangerous attack. He's been doing a good job of that so far to be fair, including the winner against Italy in their last outing.

Speaking of Uruguay, look at this! Veteran striker Diego Forlan returns to the XI with Suarez banished. Forlan was probably the only player at the last World Cup to truly master the ridiculously unpredictable Jabulani ball. However, captain Diego Lugano remains sidelined with a knee injury which has kept him out of the Italy and England games as well.

Key for Colombia will of course be Rodriguez. The Monaco midfielder has already racked up two goals and three assists in the tournament. His dovetailing with Juan Cuadrado has been almost impossible for teams to stop - just ask Greece, Cote d'Ivoire and Japan. Uruguay have an almighty defensive task on their hands.

It was something of a reserve Colombia side that dismantled Japan so easily in their final group game, so no surprise to see Jose Pekerman make eight changes to his XI. The regulars are back in business, including stalwart defender Mario Yepes and playmaking sensation James Rodriguez.

URUGUAY (3-5-2): Muslera; Caceres, Gimenez, Godin; Maxi Pereira, Arevalo Rios, Gonzalez, Rodriguez, Alvaro Pereira; Forlan, Cavani.

COLOMBIA (4-4-2): Ospina; Zuniga, Zapata, Yepes, Armero; Sanchez, Aguilar, Cuadrado, Rodriguez; Gutierrez, Jackson

Live commentary: Goal dot com

Published: 2:11 am Sunday, June 29, 2014

Last modified: 11:35 pm Sunday, June 29, 2014

TAGS: world cup Colombia Brazil 2014 Uruguay

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