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Colombia in last 16

Saturday, June 21, 2014

BRASILIA - Another superb performance by playmaker James Rodriguez has inspired Colombia to a 2-1 win over Ivory Coast in their World Cup Group C match and qualified for the last 16.

Rodriguez, scoring his second of the tournament, and substitute Juan Fernando Quintero, with his first international goal, struck in the second-half while Gervinho replied with a superb individual goal, his second of the finals, for the African side.

Colombia, making their first appearance at the finals since 1998, qualified for the second round after Greece and Japan played to a nil-all draw in their clash.

Ivory Coast are still firmly in the hunt for a place in the last 16 for the first time in three appearances as they opened with a 2-1 win over Japan.

"It was a tough match like all of those at the World Cup," said Rodriguez, who has more than made up for the loss of leading striker and fellow Monaco team-mate Radamel Falcao through injury.

"It is terrific to have taken three points off our major rival who are extremely physical and know how to play good football."

Colombia's coach Jose Pekerman said he was delighted with their campaign as they bid to reach the second round for only the second time in five appearances at the finals.

"It gives me great pleasure that we have come through a tough encounter and we have six points from six," said the Argentine, who guided his homeland to the quarter-finals in 2006.

"It is super that Colombia can compete at this level with players competing in their first World Cup finals."

Ivorian midfielder Die Serey was in floods of tears before the match and it was reported later that his father had died hours before the match.

The Colombians should have broken the nil-all deadlock just before halftime but for a dreadful miskick by Teofilo Gutierez after being beautifully teed up.

Colombia had done an effective job on taking Ivory Coast's main creative force Yaya Toure out of the game as Carlos Sanchez followed him everywhere.

Ivory Coast coach Sabri Lamouchi had seen enough and sent 36-year-old Didier Drogba on for the ineffective Wilfried Bony hoping he could work his magic.

However, his team-mates were looking at him in askance after the smaller Rodriguez managed to beat him and another defender to Cuadrado's corner and head home sparking another terrific Motown style Colombian goal celebration.

There was another excuse for more of that in the 70th minute as Rodriguez dispossessed Die inside his own half and fed Juan Fernando Quintero who ran into the penalty area and slotted the ball past goalkeeper Boubacar Barry.

The Ivorians, though, were far from down and out as the match really came to life and Gervinho gave the African side real hope when he scored a superb individual goal, but Colombia hung on for the win.

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