Rodriguez double fires Colombia into quarterfinals
RIO DE JANEIRO, June 28 (Xinhua) -- James Rodriguez scored either side of halftime as Colombia advanced to the World Cup quarterfinals for the first time with a 2-0 victory over Uruguay here on Saturday.
The 22-year-old midfielder opened the scoring at the Maracana stadium with a sublime long-range volley before tapping in a second goal just after halftime.
Colombia will now meet hosts Brazil in Fortaleza on July 4 with a place in the tournament's last four at stake.
Rodriguez now has five goals and two assists from four matches, and is a leading contender for the Golden Ball awarded to the World Cup's best player.
Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez opted to replace suspended forward Luis Suarez with former Manchester United striker Diego Forlan in his starting eleven.
But the 35-year-old struggled to exert any influence and was replaced early in the second half by Espanyol striker Christian Stuani.
Cavani, despite his tireless work rate, looked isolated without Suarez by his side. Despite his increased participation late in the match, the Paris Saint-Germain forward failed to make the impact Tabarez had hoped for, or needed.
Colombia controlled the tempo in the early stages, although genuine scoring chances were scarce.
Jackson Martinez, Juan Zuniga and Juan Cuadrado all had dangerous shots on target in the first half hour. But it was Rodriguez who lit up the match with a moment of breathtaking brilliance.
With his back to goal, the Monaco playmaker controlled the ball with his chest before swiveling and, in the same motion, lashing a fierce 20-meter shot that went in off the bar.
The only person not cheering - apart from Uruguay and their fans - would have been Australia's Tim Cahill, who has surely now been usurped for goal of the tournament.
The goal sparked Uruguay to life and the Celeste enjoyed longer spells of possession as the first half progressed.
Alvaro Gonzalez had the chance to equalize on the stroke of halftime, but his wicked shot through a sea of defenders was parried away by David Ospina.
Uruguay's hopes of getting back into the match after halftime were dashed within minutes of the restart, and again it was Rodriguez who inflicted the blow.
Cuadrado met Pablo Armero's cross with a header into the box, which Rodriguez angled passed Fernando Muslera with his right foot.
But Tabarez's team did not relent. Stuani in particular made life difficult for Colombia's defence but was unable to find the target with several attempts on goal.
Colombia seemed intent to sit back as Uruguay continued to push forward and Los Cafeteros had Ospina to thank for not conceding.
The 25-year-old keeper denied both Maxi Pereira and Edinson Cavani with smart reflex saves in the final minutes.