Thursday, in Brasilia, Brazil, the Colombian National Football Team defeated their opposites from Ivory Coast 2-1 in a crucial Group C match in the World Cup.
The South Americans, with six points, are top of the group and Ivory Coast with three and zero on goal differential are in second. The winner of the Japan-Greece game later today will have a chance to progress if they subsequently beat either of the leaders.
Colombia’s win was obtained in a hard fought and mostly even game with a back and forth rhythm and several scoring opportunities on both sides. The first half ended with a 0-0 score line but not for lack of scoring opportunities. Both goalkeepers were kept active and Colombia’s defense was particularly solid while the Ivory Coast’s defense was shaky at times, requiring a last minute tackle or block, but it always got there.
The first goal, a great James Rodriguez header off a Juan Cuadrado corner kick at the 64th minutes. The Colombian score, occurred just four minutes after Didier Drogba, the inspirational Ivorian striker, had come into the game. But the Drogba effect was nevertheless present as upon his entry the team picked up the pace.
At the 69th minute, and against the run of play which had the Ivory Coast on a sustained series of attacks, the Colombians got a counter. The Ivorian defense held but upon moving forward and with Colombia having the numeric advantage, they passed poorly resulting in an intercepted pass and an easy assist to Juan Quintero who entered the box with eons to place the ball where he wanted and the tight game was turned on its head—Colombia 2, Ivory Coast 0.
But the Ivory Coast was still in fighting mode and Gervinho scored his team’s goal of the tournament with a nifty dribble into the box that eluded three defenders and a blast that goalie, David Ospina, could barely get a hand on and thus barely had any effect on the ball’s trajectory. Colombia 2, Ivory Coast 1, at the 73rd minute.
The four minutes of added stoppage time made the last 21 minutes interesting as Ivory Coast with Salomon Kalou now in as a substitute, had its most experienced trio with Drogba and Yaya Toure, and the three combined with Gervinho to give the Colombians a few scares.
Their efforts were not successful and referee, Howard Webb, who had officiated well today, blew the whistle to certify the Colombian victory. The South Americans are proving their pre-tournament press was warranted and one can only wonder what this team would have done with their missing star, Radamel Falcao.
Next on today’s World Cup menu is the awaited return of Luis Suarez, leading his Uruguayan teammates in the absence of injured captain Diego Lugano, against the rejuvenated English team in what will be a decisive Group D match since both teams carry a loss into the game.