Columbia returned to the World Cup after a 16 year hiatus with an emphatic 3-0 win over 2004 European Champions Greece.
Jackson Martinez was the expected replacement for the injured Radamel Falcao, but coach Jose Pekerman preferred Gutierrez upfront with Monaco playmaker James Rodriguez playing just behind.
Greece too went with a sole striker in the form of Gekas with 5 midfielders supporting him.
An unlucky start for Greece saw Pablo Arneros’ loose shot take a deflection off defender Kostas Manolas into the back off the net.
The Columbian forwards and attacking midfielders were pacy and exciting, threatening Karnezis’ goal several times in the first half. Greece did find a couple of chances with Kone firing wide early on. However his 20 yard curler at the end of the first half was met with a fine save by Ospina who was on goal for Columbia. Though Columbia led at the end of the first half, Greece did look like they could pull one back in the next 45 minutes.
Jose Pekerman rallied his troops and it was evident as Columbia doubled their score within 14 minutes of the second half. A set piece this time, and an easy finish by Gutierezz. Rodriguez’s corner didn’t even touch the ground nor any Greeks as two neat touches, first by Aguilar and then Gutierezz resulted in the goal.
A cheeky start from a deadball situation meant that Karnezi had to watch one more slip through. Rodriguez, with a calm finish, grabbed a spot on the scoresheet, and deservedly so.
Greece didn’t threaten much although Gekas did hit the crossbar from a headed effort.
The travelling Columbian fans were treated to a fine display which instills hope in their future in this competition.
Final Score : Columbia 3 – Greece 0
Talking points :
Falcao’s absence not felt
One would rightly assume that a player of Falcao’s stature would be sorely missed in such a big competition , but Columbia looked comfortable and composed, letting the world know that they refuse to be labelled as a one man army.
Greece just not clinical enough
Close chances and more possession were not enough to secure Greece a win and failure to convert goals cost them dearly. Gekas looked positive and worked hard but lack of support from his 5 midfielders meant chances were rare. The Greeks seemed to lack the intent to score, and were not aggressive enough in possession. They must look to create more chances and getting forward to support Gekas.
Creative and versatile, the number 10 jersey was a nightmare to deal with and Santos’ men had no answer. Displayed composure to slot in Columbia’s third and showed just why Monaco had paid 45 million for his services.