Second-half header from Falcao enough for a draw for Colombia against rivals Brazil
Thanks to Falcao’s second-half header against red-hot rivals Brazil, an excellent performance in Barranquilla earned a draw for Colombia. The visitors went into this game on the back of a phenomenal nine-match winning streak in qualifying under new boss Tite, with 26 goals scored and only two conceded in that time. Colombia stopped that winning run, becoming the first team to take points from Tite. With Brazil top of the group and already easily qualified for Russia 2018, qualification is still well within Colombia’s grasp with two matches left to play.
It was a highly entertaining first half, with both teams looking dangerous and creating chances at either end. Colombia started energetically, showing their intent to dominate the game and not let the visitors impose themselves. James was put through on goal by a lovely reverse pass from Cardona, but hit his shot straight at Brazilian goalie Alisson. In the 32nd minute, Alisson was forced into action again, tipping over a header on his own goal from Thiago Silva, under pressure from Falcao, and minutes later, James had a free-kick well saved.
But Brazil created chances too. Colombian keeper Ospina had to dive full-length to his left to tip a Firmino shot wide on 27 minutes, and six minutes later Neymar skipped past Colombian full-back Arias before stroking the ball across the face of goal. Going into injury time, with Colombia ready to go in at half-time encouraged by a performance where they had matched their opponents, Chelsea winger Willian put Brazil ahead with a tremendous strike into the top-corner after a knock-down from Neymar.
It was a gut punch for Colombia but the hosts came out for the second half with their heads up and again tried to take the game to their opponents. Their efforts were justly rewarded on 55 minutes when a great cross from Arias on the right was met by the diving header of Falcao. Remarkably it was El Tigre’s first goal of this qualifying campaign.
Colombia continued to attack, and Brazil continued to look dangerous on the counter. The impressive Edwin Cardona hit a powerful shot straight at the keeper, before James hit the post with a free-kick, the Brazilian defence scrambling the ball away before a Colombian could pounce on the rebound. At the other end, Ospina made a good save from a Firmino header, and Paulinho and Neymar both hit long-range slots just wide. In the last few minutes new Spurs signing Davinson Sanchez made a brilliant last-ditch intervention to prevent sub Gabriel Jesus from scoring the winner. Both teams deserved to take something from the game, and thanks to Falcao’s brilliant header, Colombia became the first team to take points from Tite’s Brazil.
By Ally Brown