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Rodriguez sends Colombia through

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Monday, June 30, 2014

RIO DE JANEIRO - James Rodriguez has scored an exquisite goal as Colombia beat Uruguay 2-0 to set up a World Cup quarter-final against hosts Brazil.

Pre-match build-up had been dominated by Luis Suarez's four-month ban for biting, but by the final whistle in Rio de Janeiro's Maracana stadium, there was only one name on everyone's lips.

After scoring in every group game, Rodriguez broke the deadlock shortly before the half hour with a breathtaking strike, chesting the ball down and volleying home from 25 metres.

The 22-year-old Monaco playmaker added a second early in the second half, sending him to the top of the scorers chart at the tournament with five goals and confirming his status as a World Cup hot property.

Rodriguez's goals took Colombia into the quarter-finals for the first time, meaning the northern Brazilian city of Fortaleza will turn completely yellow when Jose Pekerman's side play the hosts on July 4.

On the prospect of facing Brazil, Rodriguez said: "They're a tough team, they have great players, and they also have their history.

"But we have to go out onto the pitch looking to win, as we've always done."

Uruguay's fans sported Suarez masks and brandished banners in support of their wayward star, who flew home to Montevideo on Friday, while his shirt was hung up in the Uruguay changing room.

But they endured a night of disappointment on their return to the Maracana, scene of the country's 2-1 win over Brazil in the deciding game of the 1950 World Cup.

"The (first) goal was 100 per cent the work of the player who scored it. It was one of the greatest goals of this World Cup," said Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez.

"We have to accept defeat, congratulate Colombia, and wish them well, as a South American team, in the rest of the tournament."

Diego Forlan replaced Suarez for Uruguay, while Pekerman sprang a surprise by selecting two centre-forwards in Jackson Martinez and Teofilo Gutierrez.

Colombians Juan Cuadrado and Juan Zuniga set the tone with purposeful early runs at the Uruguay defence, with one of the latter's raids culminating in a low shot that Fernando Muslera gathered at the second attempt.

Uruguay were content to cede possession to their opponents, sitting deep on the edge of their own box, but their defences were breached in the 28th minute by a goal of jaw-dropping splendour.

After Abel Aguilar saw a chipped pass cleared back to him, he headed the ball up to Rodriguez, who was standing just outside the penalty area.

The Colombia number 10 controlled the ball on his chest, turned, and unleashed a magnificent dipping volley that crashed in off the crossbar.

Rodriguez has now scored in each of his last six international games.

Uruguay set about trying to wipe out the deficit, but Edinson Cavani's free-kick narrowly cleared the bar and Alvaro Gonzalez was foiled by a full-length parry from Colombia goalkeeper David Ospina.

Colombia doubled their lead five minutes into the second half with a fine team goal. Pablo Armero's deep left-wing cross was headed down by Cuadrado and Rodriguez swept home his second of the night from close range.


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