RIO DE JANEIRO – With a spectacular swivel-and-strike, James Rodriguez provided one of the highlights of the World Cup and gave Brazil reason to worry.
Rodriguez scored one of the best goals of the tournament and added a second to put Colombia into the World Cup quarterfinals for the first time with a 2-0 win over Uruguay on Saturday – setting up a meeting with the host nation.
Rodriguez added to his growing list of memorable moments in Brazil when he gave his team the lead with a long-range volley as he turned in the 28th minute. He scored the second from close range shortly after the break as Colombia dominated an Uruguay side that missed banned striker Luis Suarez.
“I think now the toughest is coming up,” Rodriguez said of the quarterfinal match against Brazil. “I’m happy because we are making history and as a young man I dreamed of being here. And of course we want to do even more.”
Rodriguez now has a tournament-leading five goals in Brazil and further enhanced his status as perhaps the World Cup’s biggest revelation. In the absence of injured star Radamel Falcao, the Monaco midfielder has become the focal point of a Colombia team that won all three of its group games with impressive attacking play.
The opener was his most spectacular goal yet. He chested the ball with his back to goal well outside the area and in one fluid motion turned around and fired a left-foot volley that went off the underside of the crossbar and into the net.
The goal seemingly came out of nowhere. Uruguay defender Alvaro Pereira tried to clear the ball with a diving header, but it went straight to Abel Aguilar, who headed it forward toward Rodriguez.
His maneuver only took a split second and left goalkeeper Fernando Muslera flailing helplessly as the ball looped over him and into the net. Rodriguez ran to the corner flag and thrust both hands out to his sides in a “how about that” gesture.
“I think he is the best player of the tournament so far,” Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez said.
Rodriguez’s second was a perfectly executed team move as Colombia worked the ball over from the right flank to the left, where Pablo Armero sent in a cross that was met by Juan Cuadrado at the far post. Cuadrado headed back across goal toward Rodriguez, who slotted in from just a few yards out.
This time, the entire team ran over to the corner flag for a celebratory dance.
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