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Colombia beat Ivory Coast 2-1 in Group C match at Brasilia's Estadio Nacional
James Rodriguez puts Los Cafeteros ahead in 64th minute with a header from a corner
Juan Quintero doubles lead six minutes later before Gervinho halved deficit
Greece and Japan play out 0-0 draw in Natal
Colombia are through to the knockout stages of the World Cup after beating Ivory Coast 2-1 at the Estadio Nacional in Brasilia on Thursday.
Both sides came into the game off the back of wins in their opening matches – Colombia put three goals past Greece while Ivory Coast came from behind to beat Japan 2-1.
But it was Los Cafeteros who ensured their place in the last 16 following their win and Japan’s draw with Greece in the other Group C match.
A tense first half ended goalless before the game sprang into life in the 64th minute as James Rodriguez headed home from a corner.
Cue Colombia’s rhythmic celebrations.
Five minutes later they were at it again when Rodriguez turned provider for Juan Quintero after Ivory Coast’s defense gave the ball away in their own half.
Rodriguez, ever alert, pounced on the mistake before slotting the ball through for Quintero to run onto before firing a low shot past goalkeeper Boubacar Barry.
The 21-year-old’s first international goal looked to have put Jose Pekerman’s men out of sight but Gervinho put Ivory Coast back in the game with a superb individual effort in the 73rd minute.
After picking the ball up down the left, the Roma striker skipped past three challenges before unleashing a right foot drive which goalkeeper David Ospina could only parry into the roof of his net.
Despite the best efforts of Didier Drogba – who replaced Wilfried Bony after an hour – and inspirational midfielder Yaya Toure, the Elephants couldn’t find an equalizer.
Colombia might have stolen a third late on as Quintero unleashed an audacious 40-yard effort but Barry was alert to the danger.
The South American side’s first back-to-back wins at the World Cup finals sees them top Group C with a maximum six points with one game to play. Ivory Coast remain in second place with three points.
Greece and Japan draw blank
Group C’s other game between Japan and Greece at the Estadio das Dunas in Natal ended goalless, ensuring Colombia’s progression to the next round.
Greece were reduced to 10 men in the 38th minute when their captain Kostas Katsouranis was sent off after receiving a second yellow card.
The numerical advantage saw Japan have the majority of possession but Alberto Zaccheroni’s side couldn’t find a way through a well-organized Greek defense.
The result ensures both sides retain a slim chance of qualification as runners up to Colombia who, whatever happens in the final group fixtures, can look forward to their first appearance in the last 16 for 24 years.