World Cup 2014: Colombia too good for Greece as they open up Group C with 3-0 win
By Tim Oscroft, follow me on Twitter @TimOscroft
Last Updated: 15/06/14 11:21am
Colombia marked their return to the World Cup finals with a comfortable 3-0 win over Greece in Belo Horizonte on Saturday.
The South Americans, who last qualified in 1998, went ahead early through Pablo Armero and their lead was doubled just before the hour mark by Teofilo Gutierrez.
James Rodriguez sealed the win by placing the ball in from the edge of the box in stoppage time.
Greece created several chances, and went close just after Colombia’s second when Theofanis Gekas hit the bar with a diving header.
The result gives Colombia a great chance of making the last 16 for only the second time, from a group containing Japan and Ivory Coast, who they play next.
But Greece face a difficult task and will rue the fact that they did not take their chances when they came in what was, at times, an entertaining start to Group C’s fixtures.
The game at the Estadio Mineirao had barely settled down when Colombia took the lead through the unlikely source of the Napoli left-back who played five times while on loan at West Ham last season.
Juan Cuadrado pulled the ball back from the right to find Armero in a central position on the edge of the box, and his shot bobbled past Greece goalkeeper Orestis Karnezis following a wicked deflection off Kostas Manolas.
The Greeks went close to equalising straight away, Georgios Samaras’ cross finding Panagiotis Kone, who slid his shot past the left-hand post.
Neither side dominated for the remainder of the first half, but an open game resulted in chances for both. Vassilis Torosidis went close to converting a free-kick with a header, while Rodriguez spurned a good chance to double Colombia’s lead when his left-footed volley from inside the area went across and over the goal.
Colombia keeper David Ospina ensured his side kept their lead going in to the break, parrying Kone’s curling shot from 20 yards around his post just before stoppage time.
Watched by injured star striker Rademal Falcao, ruled out of the tournament with a knee ligament problem, Colombia were the stronger of the two sides when the game resumed and were good value for their second goal.
Abel Aguilar flicked on Rodriguez’s corner at the near post to wrong-foot the Greek defence, and River Plate’s Gutierrez, leading the line in place of Falcao, had the simplest of chances to stab the ball home from two yards.
Gekas wasted a perfect opportunity to reduce the deficit just a few minutes later, but having found space in the area his diving header struck the crossbar and rebounded to safety.
Samaras rifled a shot past the post that Ospina looked to have covered, and Torosidis had a penalty claim ignored inside the last 10 minutes.
But Colombia sealed the deal in injury time when, following a quickly-taken free-kick, Cuadrado’s clever flick found Rodriguez, whose shot brushed Karnezis’ outstretched right hand on its way in to give their confident performance the result it deserved.