Saturday in Bello Horizonte, Brazil the Colombian National Football Team defeated their Greek opposite 3-1 in their opening Group C match.
At the fifth minute, Pablo Armero, one of four Colombians in the Greek box, opened the scoring with a close in shot that deflected off a Greek defender and rolled into the net next to the left post.
The game was an entertaining match that brought out the best in both teams as the Greeks, finding themselves behind early, had to play on offense too. The Colombians, focused on an all-around possession game were met with the Greek intensity from the get go and this made for a back and forth rhythm.
As the match progressed, Colombia keeper David Ospina was called upon to make saves that kept his team’s slim margin the difference between the opponents.
The first half ended with the score Colombia 1, Greece 0.
The second half began with the realization that we have witnessed the best officiating of the cup so far and it comes from US referee Mark Geiger and his team. No diving or strategic fouls were condoned and enough yellows were doled out to keep the game under control from early on. That rhythm set by the ref the players knew immediately what would be tolerated and played mostly accordingly.
The second half began with Greece pressing the attack and Colombia sticking to its game but with the occasional quick counter.
Then, Teofilo Gutierrez poached a free ball during a poorly defended corner at the 58th to increase the South American’s lead.
The game went into a more frenzied pace as the Greeks went all out on attack and substituted to that end, but Colombia always looked just as dangerous. Nevertheless a Greek diving header from very close in found the crossbar and another couple of well taken shots were nevertheless parried by Ospina.
In stoppage time a simple series of passes sliced the Greek defense wide open and left four Colombians in the Greek box with James Rodriguez receiving in perfect position. He took a well-placed left-footed shot right to left past the grasping hands of Orestis Karnezis who managed to graze but not deflect the ball.
In the end it was a deserved victory and a great beginning for Colombia but a sobering lesson for the Greeks who played their best when seeking to score as opposed to following their usual defensive style.
Ivory Coast and Japan play each other later tonight and they now know what their rivals can do.