On Saturday June 14 the Colombian national anthem was proudly sung at the World Cup for the first time in 16 years.
Head coach Jose Pekerman and his 23 carefully chosen fighters stood firm and whipped the country to a state of ecstasy. In the 90th minute Monaco star James Rodriguez finished off a counterattack to seal the 3-0 victory against Greece and, despite Sunday’s elections, the nation was united for a day.
The match was a demonstration of strength from a Colombian team met by a poor Greek performance. With Guarin still suspended after a red card in the last qualifier against Paraguay, a calm, controlled start from Colombia resulted in a quick lead. After five minutes it was ‘Pablito’ Armero who finished an attack down the right wing from Cuadrado.
The dreadlocked star was on the edge of the box looking to find a compatriot when he found Armero, who defeated the Greek goalkeeper with a controlled, albeit deflected shot. Determined to keep the margin, Colombia, led by captain Yepes, defended well and went on to find more.
The wings, with Zuñiga and Armero, two of Colombia’s weapons in the qualifiers, were a constant threat for the Greek defence. Ibarbo, James and Cuadrado had chances at 1-0 but the ball didn’t beat the Greek goalie. On the other side little was going on, Kone sent wide an attempt from 18 yards and just before half time Ospina made a beautiful save from another Kone attempt.
The second half started as the first half ended. At the 60-minute mark, a corner from James Rodriguez was easily finished by Teófilo Gutierrez after an essential touch from Aguilar.
Colombia dominated the game from there and only the Greeks’ greatest attempt at a goal came when Gekas headed an open chance onto the crossbar.
Colombia was awoken once more and didn’t give away any more chances until James sealed the win with his goal for 3-0.
The Bogota Post brings you a great mix of football coverage in our 2014 World Cup Special starting here.
By Freek Huigen