CUIABA, Brazil – Substitute James Rodriguez scored a brilliant goal and set up two more for Jackson Martinez as Colombia beat Japan 4-1 on Tuesday to confirm top spot in Group C and eliminate the Asian champions from the World Cup.
Already assured of advancing, Colombia guaranteed first place with its third straight win, setting up a second-round match against Uruguay.
The Colombians started with a virtual second-string lineup but still went in front when Juan Cuadrado – one of the few regular starters – drilled in a 17th-minute penalty.
Japan equalized with the last touch of the first half through Shinji Okazaki’s header but Martinez scored in the 55th and 82nd minutes – both from superb passes from Rodriguez – to put the result beyond doubt.
GROUP C FINAL STANDINGS
The international nature of professional soccer makes for some uniquely compelling individual matchups at the World Cup. Since the event is only held once every four years, during the time between tournaments the members of each country’s national teams go back to playing for their respective, privately owned clubs.
It’s easy to imagine how this could make things awkward for a player who has a club teammate who’s on the roster of a different national team. One day you’re doing everything you can to beat him at the World Cup, but a few weeks later, you’re going to have to go back to working together, no matter how bitterly contested your match in Brazil was.
Sometimes, though, the opposite happens, and these personal connections bring a little extra sportsmanship to the World Cup, like what happened between Japanese defender Yuto Nagatomo and Colombian midfielder Fredy Guarin.
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I’m not psychic, just incredibly intelligent and shockingly good-looking.
Here’s what I tweeted last week about Luis “Count Vlad” Suarez:
WWLSB? (Who Will Luis Suarez Bite?) #WorldCup
? James (@wetcasements) June 19, 2014
Personlly, I’d ban him for life from international play. This being FIFA, they probably won’t do a damn thing.
And it’s only a matter of time before Balotelli ends somebody’s career.
A pox on both of these horrible teams.