Colombia failed to win their final group game on Saturday against Costa Rica in Houston, Texas
Colombia played their final group game on Saturday, coming up against Costa Rica in Houston, Texas. Having already comfortably qualified for the quarter finals, coach Jose Pekerman opted to play with a much changed side and rest star players such as James Rodríguez and David Ospina. Jeison Murillo, Juan Guillermo Cuadrado and Carlos Bacca were all also moved to the bench.
Initially it seemed that this decision had backfired as Costa Rica, themselves already knocked out of the tournament after the USA beat Paraguay earlier, scored very early on. Johan Venegas picked out the top corner with a screamer from about 25 yards out after only two minutes, making it 1-0 to the Central Americans.
However, moments later a Colombia counter-attack resulted in an immediate equaliser, Boca Juniors leftback Frank Fabra scoring his first goal for La Selección to make it 1-1 after only six minutes.
37 year-old Santa Fe goalkeeper Robinson Zapata, playing his first Colombia game since 2007, was called into action to block a long range shot by Costa Rican goalscorer Venegas 15 minutes in, as Costa Rica continued to control the game against the less experienced Cafeteros.
Colombia started to gain more of a foothold as the half went on, creating two good opportunities in quick succession in the 25th and 27th minutes, Stefan Medina and Roger Martinez both denied by excellent saves from Costa Rican goalkeeper Pemberton.
But, after 33 minutes, a seemingly harmless attack from Costa Rica ended with Frank Fabra putting the goal into his own net. Los Cafeteros had to chase the game again, with the score now 2-1 to Costa Rica. The rest of the half fizzled out in frustration for Colombia and they went in at halftime losing 2-1.
Pekerman brought on James Rodriguez and Edwin Cardona, replacing Dayro Moreno and Sebastián Pérez, at the beginning of the second half, to try and swing the game back to Colombia’s favour.
The changes brought an early new rhythm, but it seemed to be in vain as a fantastic team move saw Costa Rica extend their lead at 58 minutes. A succession of accurate passes left Colombia’s defence tied in knots. Celso Borges completed the move with a simple finish and it was 3-1 to Los Ticos.
Juan Cuadrado was brought on as the final throw of the dice in the 66th minute, and five minutes later he was able to make the difference as he put in a cross, finished by 19 year-old talent Marlos Moreno, and making it 3-2.
Colombia pushed hard for an equaliser for the rest of the game, but despite a hectic finish they couldn’t find the back of the net again and the game finished 3-2 to Costa Rica. The defeat means Colombia finish second in their group behind the USA, with Costa Rica and Paraguay going home. Mexico, Venezuela and Argentina are, so far, the other teams to confirm their place in the last eight.
By Daniel Tinsley