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World Cup 2014
 

Colombia 2 Uruguay 0: Match highlights, key battle, and what the result means

Published on Jun 29, 2014 6:31 AM
 
Colombia's James Rodriguez celebrates after scoring his second goal during the 2014 World Cup Round of 16 game between Colombia and Uruguay at the Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro June 28, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

As one fallen star watched from his couch, a fast-rising talent has assumed his seat at the pinnacle of world football.

22-year-old James Rodriguez shot to the top of the World Cup scoring charts after a magical brace in Colombia's 2-0 win over a Luis Suarez-less Uruguay in the Round of 16.

Signed by Monaco for £36 million last year, the forward must be worth even more today, continuing a one-man shock-and-awe operation to outshine the likes of Neymar, Lionel Messi and Thomas Mueller.

Not only does he top the goal standings with five strikes, he is also the first player since 2002 to score in each of his first four World Cup matches.

As the football gods would have it, Rodriguez will come face-to-face with Neymar as hosts Brazil await in the quarter-finals.

Match highlights

- A dull affair exploded into life in the 28th minute with a moment of pure wizardry from Colombia's silky No. 10. Chesting the ball so close that he could almost sniff it, Rodriguez fired a dipping volley from 25 yards that cannoned in off the crossbar. Tim Cahill's reign at No. 1 on the best goal category is over.

- The youngster also wanted the top scorer spot all for himself. Five minutes after the break, he timed his run into the box to perfection to tap in Juan Cuadrado's header from close range.

- Without suspended talisman Suarez, Uruguay only threatened from long range. Cristian Rodriguez twice forced good parries from Colombian goalkeeper David Ospina.

Key battle

Mario Yepes vs Edinson Cavani/Diego Forlan

Centre-back Yepes - the tournament's oldest outfield player at 38 - was once again faultless at the back. Age can be a hard statistic to overcome at this level, as we saw with 35-year-old Forlan, a pale shadow of the former European golden boot winner. But not for the former Milan and Paris Saint-Germain defender.

Yepes' uncompromising tackling and reading of the game made the £50m-rated Cavani look distinctly average. The Colombian stalwart's energy inspires his team-mates, who look as if they don't want to do anything foolish to incur the wrath of their captain.

Man of the Match

No doubt about it. He's the Man of the Tournament so far. Rodriguez has shown the world that Messi and Neymar are not the only gems from South America. 

The spotlight only seems to encourage more magic from the maestro. Uruguay were comfortable in defence until his wonder-strike that deflated their spirits and inflated his burgeoning reputation even further.

Rodriguez's understanding of the game sets him apart. He knows where and when to drift between lines, creating space for himself and openings for his team-mates to pass to. His second goal will be judged as a tap-in, but the timing had to be perfect to sneak past a packed penalty area.

What the result means

Uruguay's World Cup hopes were realistically over as soon as Suarez left the country following his nine-game ban for biting Italy's Giorgio Chiellini. Building a pre-match siege mentality, the squad had vowed to win for 'Chewy Luis'. Instead, the 90 minutes highlighted how lost and lethargic they look without their most decorated footballer.

Colombia, meanwhile, deservedly booked a final-eight spot for the first time. Backed by the indomitable Rodriguez, even Brazil must be feeling wary ahead of Friday's clash. The Selecao's defensive frailties could be exposed by a man who has made experienced heads look like wide-eyed rookies.

But if there's one talent who can match or even surpass him, it's Neymar. A battle of two football fantasistas awaits.

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