Colombia topples Uruguay to reach first World Cup quarterfinals

James Rodriguez of Columbia celebrates scoring a goal after making it 1-0

Photo by Ben Queenborough/ISIPhotos.com

By CARL SETTERLUND

There’s been no bigger storyline in the World Cup so far than the Luis Suarez biting fiasco, but once the Round of 16 matchup between Colombia and Uruguay began it was another gifted attacker who stole the spotlight.

James Rodríguez has been one of the breakout stars of the World Cup, and the 22-year-old outdid himself once again on Saturday. After scoring in each of Colombia’s first three games, he was on double duty against Uruguay, scoring both goals in a 2-0 victory in Rio de Janeiro.

The win sends Colombia on into the World Cup quarterfinals for the first time ever. One of the biggest wins in national team history will set up the biggest game in Colombian history as they’ll square off with tournament host Brazil at 4 p.m. Friday at Estádio Castelão in Fortaleza.

The precocious Rodríguez has taken over the lead in the race for the Golden Boot with five goals. That puts him ahead of the trio of Neymar, Lionel Messi and Thomas Muller with four goals apiece. Rodríguez has played a part in seven of the Colombia’s 11 goals so far at the World Cup.

The Monaco man also entered the conversation for goal of the tournament with a 28th-minute golazo that he sent off the crossbar and in from about 25 yards out. Abel Aguilar headed it over to Rodríguez, who chested the ball down and struck a beauty out of the air with his golden left foot.

There was no blame to be had on the part of Uruguayan keeper Fernando Muslera (2 saves), who did well just to get his fingertips on the shot before it went off the crossbar and in.

Rodríguez struck again in the 50th minute, this time with a far simpler finish.

Pablo Armero came forward to serve it in from the left edge of the box, and Juan Cuadrado got on the other end at the far post, heading it back in front of goal for Rodríguez to bang home. Adding a slight degree of difficulty was that the finish came via his right foot. Rodríguez is a lefty.

Even without Suarez, who was suspended for biting a player in Uruguay’s group stage win over Italy, Uruguay didn’t exit quietly, managing 16 shots. But the Colombian back line was able to limit the quality of those chances as only four of them went on target.

Uruguay bows out in the Round of 16 after having made the semifinals in the 2010 World Cup.

Meanwhile, Group C champion Colombia improved to 4-0 in this World Cup, surpassing its total number of wins in previous World Cups. The Colombians had only ever advanced to the knockout stage once before in 1990 (Round of 16). They’ve only won one major competition before, the Copa América in 2001, but there’s little denying that Colombia has caught fire this year down in Brazil.

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What did you think of the match? Has Rodríguez been the player of the tournament? How far can Colombia go? Is Suarez’s absence the blame for Uruguay’s poor showing?

Share your thoughts below.

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9 Responses to Colombia topples Uruguay to reach first World Cup quarterfinals

  1. Dan says:

    Wait was this actually an upset? With Suarez out I assumed Colombia would be favored heavily. They finished above them in qualifying – it’s not like they came out of nowhere.

  2. espada says:

    Definitely not an upset if you saw the way Uruguay and Colombia were playing in the group stages. Colombia truly has an elite team with a world class player and will be a huge challenge to Brazil.

  3. Ga1atic0 says:

    I think Colombia will pull off an upset vs Brazil. The quality Colombia’s bringing into the field is superb.

  4. nickp91 says:

    Would love to see Colombia go all the way and finally make up for 1994

  5. quozzel says:

    I was a bit surprised by how passive Colombia went once they got up 2-0. I was also more than a bit surprised how even the match seemed and it really didn’t look like Colombia had any real way through until Rodriguez hit that wonder-strike.

    Interesting how they’ve lived and died with Suarez’s bad behavior. Suarez’s handball-and-red got them through into the semis last time around and robbed Ghana. His behavior this time basically left Uruguay toothless and DOA in the Round of 16…as they say, that kind of thing tends to even out, over time.

    I don’t see Uruguay being a factor in the next World Cup. Suarez will be 31 by then and the next bite will probably see him banned from the game anyhow, Forlan will be gone, Christian Rodriguez, their very, very good central midfielder from Atletico Madrid, will be 32. They also have an aging defense that wasn’t quite quick enough to begin with. I don’t see a long list of younger players behind those guys, either. So that’s probably it for Uruguay for awhile…CONMEBOL swallows the weak.

    • Only Results Matter says:

      Should we stop political correctness about Suares’s handball ROBBING Ghana? He had made avionics,action punishable by a red card and a penalty. Not really different than a last defender bringing a player down. What robbed Ghana 4 years ago was Gyan not handling his nerves and missing a penalty. We should all be tired and appalled about this discussion how the last team from Africa was robbed. I personally was very happy for Ghana to be dumped after their whining during the US game. The only sweetest payback is this year.

      • Eurosnob says:

        Handball against Ghana was a brilliant play, but the bite on Chiellini was a dumb one. Ghana was not robbed, they self-destructed.

  6. argh says:

    Cavani flopped for Uruguay. 1 goal which was a PK and an assist to Suarez

    Colombia might actually make it to the semi’s. This Rodgriguez guy is world class. Monaco will sell him for like 80 million euros this summer

    • frank from santiago says:

      why would monaco sell james? they just bought him, have deep pockets (Oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev = Abramovich) and are in the champions league. Rybolovlev said he wants monaco to compete with the top teams in the world, why would he get rid of one of its stars?!?……..and money is not an issue.