Sunday, 18 November, 2018

Colombia feeling pressure of potential early World Cup exit

Carlos Sanchez Colombia midfielder avoids dubious honour after brain snap
Angelica Greene | 25 June, 2018, 07:16

Goals from Yerry Mina, Radamel Falcao and Juan Cuadrado gave Colombia a convincing 3-0 win on June 24 against Poland, who were eliminated from contention at the World Cup before their last Group H match.

Colombia, for the part played 87 minutes in their opening match with 10 men after Carlos Sanchez was shown the second-fastest World Cup red card in history.

It was Yerry Mina who opened the scoring with a superb header in the 40th minute on a handsome cross from James to set the ball rolling for the South Americans, who scored three in the last 45 minutes to seal Poland's fate.

The win for Colombia sees them on three points in Group H, placed third behind Japan and Senegal, who have four points each. "He's played at the top level for many years and he's the Colombians' driving force".

After riding a tense start that forced Mina and then Wilmar Barrios to react quickly to thwart early threats from Robert Lewandowski, Colombia eventually got into their stride.

Playing some scintillating soccer in Kazan, Falcao scored with the outside of his foot in the 70th minute after a superb pass from playmaker Juan Quintero in the back of the defense.

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The Sky Blue should have beaten Egypt by a wider margin than they did but Luis Suarez could not finish multiple chances. Uruguay was the only South American team to win its opening match in a tournament where upsets have been commonplace.

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It was the flawless start to their campaign, making Japan the first Asian country to defeat a South American team at a World Cup. Princess Hisako of Takamada appeared at Mordovia Arena in Saransk , where Japan beat Colombia 2-1, and waved to spectators.

"But we're not going to go insane, mentally we're in a good place but we need to continue to improve because we are ambitious and we want to continue in this World Cup as we hoped".

Rodriguez has now been directly involved in nine goals in seven World Cup appearances for Colombia, scoring six and assisting on three.

With two losses after two games, Poland has zero points. The lively Quintero threaded a defence-splitting pass to Falcao, who rolled back the years with a delightful low finish with the outside of his right boot.

A victory over the Africans in their final first-round match in Samara on Thursday would secure Colombia a spot in the last 16 as they target at least matching their charge to the quarter-finals in Brazil four years ago.

"Our players did their best until the end of the game".

The pressure is now on, not just for Rodriguez, but in the knowledge that Jose Nestor Pekerman's six-and-a-half-year stint - only three other coaches at the World Cup have been in place longer - in charge would have a huge stain should Colombia lose against a Poland side ranked eighth by Federation Internationale de Football Association and also needing a result.

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