Colombia are back in contention to reach the knockout stages after beating (and eliminating) Poland 3-0 in their first stage FIFA World Cup Group H game at the Kazan Arena in the Russian city of Kazan on Sunday.
Poland started with a pressing, aggressive game, meaning plenty of work early on for Colombia’s back line. The defence seemed to be compact and organised in trying to close the gaps.
Colombia tried to take the initiative and began looking to exploit gaps left by Polish attacks. In the first ten minutes Colombia approached Poland’s defensive line with a great quick-flowing passing move involving Quintero, Mojica, Rodriguez and Falcao.
Yerry Mina gave Los Cafeteros the lead. The Barcelona defender rises highest to nod home after some delightful link-up play between Quinteros and James. The Colombia No10 dinked a delicious chipped cross into the middle and powered a thunderous header past the stranded Szczesny. 1-0 Colombia.
After Yerry Mina scored, the celebration was expected. Colombia were recognised the world over because of their superb dancing celebrations at Brazil 2014. Now with Cuadrado involved too, the team showed off the dancing skills they had practiced before.
Los Cafeteros were in the ascendancy after the half, with more attempts at goal, more of the ball and a higher passing accuracy.
Falcao then doubled the lead for Colombia (70th minute). The man who missed Brazil 2014 through injury, and has battled back to find not just fitness but form at club and international level, scores his first World Cup goal. He owes it to Quintero, who split the Polish defence to find the legendary No9. Falcao made no mistake, poking past Szczesny to double the Colombian lead. 2-0 Colombia.
A superlative ball by James Rodriguez sets Juan Cuadrado No11 free, and he sprints clear of the Polish defence before calmly slotting past Szczesny (75th minute). Juan Cuadrado has now scored in two different World Cups. He scored against Japan on June 24, 2014 in Brazil.3-0 Colombia
Colombia have now won eight of nine World Cup games in which they have taken the lead.
“I think that our players really played their best until the very end of the game but we lost against a very strong team and this is what we have to accept. My opinion tonight: the match was pretty level until we conceded the first goal. Then, we changed our system to a more offensive one and I’m very sorry and sad that we lost. Tomorrow is another day.” Adam Nawalka, Poland coach said after the game.
“We were playing with the pressure of having to win. Both teams had just lost so there was no room for mistakes. We shouldered that responsibility fully but with a beautiful game and creative football. The team played as a unit and the football emerged from this unity. It led to the goals and now we have a good position in this World Cup. We have to understand what football is, what competitions are. We have to simply forget any quick judgements or prejudices that we might have. Players often depend on how they played in their last match. It also depends on specific obstacles in one match. You need to look at the opponent, there are so many factors. That’s why I think that Colombia have grown a great deal, my players are self-critical, they are competitive, they are ambitious. They can overcome the lows and they give us hope.” Jose Pekerman, Colombia coach said.
“I think [Falcao’s goal] is one of the greatest joys that we received tonight. He is a symbol of the national team, a symbol of Colombian football. We always hope that he can score and he can be fit as he was in the match today. We want to help him as a team so that he can show all his skill and shine. And I think the fact that today he scored was extremely important not only for today’s match but for future matches.” Jose Pekerman, Colombia coach added.
It was the sixth encounter for Colombia and Poland, and their first one at an official tournament. Colombia won four of the games.
With three points earned in the tournament, Colombia ascended to third place in Group H. Poland which remains without a point now has no chance to make it into the knockout stage and is effectively eliminated. The top position in Group H is shared by Senegal and Japan, both having four points each.
Now, Poland will face Japan in Volgograd on June 28 and Senegal will play the final groups stage match against Colombia in Samara, also on June 28.
A total of 32 national football teams are participating in the 2018 FIFA World Cup, held in 11 cities across Russia between June 14 and July 15.
The teams were divided into eight groups, with four in each, and the top two from their relevant groups will proceed to the next round, known as the playoffs or the knockout stage, to keep vying for the much-coveted FIFA World Cup Trophy.
Russia is holding its first time ever edition of the FIFA World Cup, which kicked off in Moscow with a spectacular opening show at the Luzhniki Stadium on the night of June 14. The World Cup is being held at 12 arenas across 11 cities with the final set to be played at Luzhniki on July 15. The 11 host cities are Moscow, St. Petersburg, Sochi, Kazan, Saransk, Kaliningrad, Volgograd, Rostov-on-Don, Nizhny Novgorod, Yekaterinburg and Samara.