Colombia beats Ivory Coast to take control of group

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Colombian players dance after scoring against Ivory Coast at the Mane Garrincha National Stadium in Brasilia on Thursday

Colombian players dance after scoring against Ivory Coast at the Mane Garrincha National Stadium in Brasilia on Thursday

BRASILIA: Colombia seized control of World Cup Group C when goals from James Rodriguez and substitute Juan Quintero gave the South Americans a 2-1 win against Ivory Coast on Thursday.

The two nations, meeting for the first time, won their opening games against Greece and Japan respectively and Colombia’s success in an entertaining contest puts them on six points at the top of the group, with Ivory Coast on three.

The match only really came to life in the second half and Rodriguez broke the deadlock in the 64th minute when he beat substitute Didier Drogba to the ball at a corner and sent it arrowing into the net off goalkeeper Boubacar Barry.

Rodriguez dispossessed Serey Die six minutes later and Teofilo Gutierrez sent Quintero clear to finish coolly past Barry and send the thousands of yellow-clad Colombia supporters thronging the national stadium in Brasilia into ecstasy.

Gervinho, who also scored against Japan, pulled one back for the Africans in the 73rd minute but Colombia held firm to put one foot firmly in the last 16.

After a cagey opening few minutes in the giant arena in the Brazilian capital, Colombia started to push forward, with midfielder Juan Cuadrado at the heart of their attacks.

It was Cuadrado’s ball out to the left that released Rodriguez in the 28th minute but his fine cross was scuffed wide by striker Gutierrez unmarked in front of goal.

Ivory Coast had their first genuine chance three minutes later when lively fullback Serge Aurier cut inside his marker and his low shot forced a good save from Colombia goalkeeper David Ospina.

Ivory Coast talisman Drogba, who was introduced on the hour, was at fault for the opening goal and made little impact during the rest of the game.

After Colombia’s quickfire double and Gervinho’s response, Ivory Coast pressed hard for an equalizer, Salomon Kalou, another substitute, shooting straight at Ospina when well placed five minutes from time.

Teams
Colombia: David Ospina — Juan Camilo Zuniga, Cristian Zapata, Mario Yepes (cap), Pablo Armero (Santiago Arias 72) — Juan Cuadrado, Abel Aguilar (Alexander Mejia 79), James Rodriguez, Carlos Sanchez, Victor Ibarbo (Juan Quintero 53) — Teofilo Gutierrez
Ivory Coast: Boubacar Barry — Serge Aurier, Didier Zokora, Souleymane Bamba, Arthur Boka — Max-Alain Gradel (Salomon Kalou 67), Cheick Tiote, Yaya Toure (cap), Die Geoffroy Serey (Mathis Bolly 73), Gervinho — Wilfried Bony (Didier Drogba 60) Yellow card: Didier Zokora (55), Cheick Tiote (90)
Referee: Howard Webb (ENG)

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