A sensational James Rodriguez brace saw Colombia sweep Uruguay aside 2-0, setting up their first quarter-final with Brazil.
Juan Cuadrado’s Cafeteros progressed with a 100 per cent record from the group stage and threw on Jackson Martinez for an all-attack side. Uruguay were reeling from the four-month Luis Suarez ban for biting Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini, so Diego Forlan partnered Edinson Cavani with Maxi Pereira back from suspension.
Of the 22 players starting at the Maracana in Rio de Janeiro, eight of them are owned by Serie A clubs. These nations had only met once before at a World Cup, when Uruguay fought back to win 2-1 in a 1962 group game.
Juan Camilo Zuniga of Napoli tested Nando Muslera from distance and Diego Godin charged down a Jackson Martinez header, as Uruguay sat back and defended in numbers.
It needed a moment of magic to break them down and it really was from James Rodriguez. He chested down the ball with his back to goal, spun round and volleyed it in off the underside of the bar from 20 metres. It’s surely a candidate for goal of the tournament and means he’s netted in each of his World Cup games so far.
La Celeste finally had to attack and Cavani’s free kick was over the bar, while the ex-Napoli striker just failed to get on the end of a Cristian Rodriguez effort. Colombia continued to dominate possession, holding 65 per cent in the first half.
Colombia doubled their lead straight after the restart with a wonderful team effort. Pablo Armero’s cross was knocked down at the back post by Cuadrado for James Rodriguez to turn in from six yards.
Alvaro Gonzalez and Cristian Rodriguez tested David Ospina from distance, while Cavani nodded a corner over and the goalkeeper was alert to rush out and block Maxi Pereira’s volley.
Colombia went to control mode and Cavani’s scuffed shot was palmed round the base of the upright.
Colombia 2-0 Uruguay
Scorers: J Rodriguez 28, 50 (C)
Colombia: Ospina; C Zuniga, C Zapata, Yepes, Armero; Aguilar, C Sanchez; Cuadrado (Guarin 80), J Rodriguez (Ramos 84), Jackson Martinez; Gutierrez (Mejia 67)
Uruguay: Muslera; Caceres, Godin, Gimenez, A Pereira (Ramirez 53); Gonzalez (Hernandez 66), Arevalo Rios, C Rodriguez, Maxi Pereira; Cavani, Forlan (Stuani 53)
Ref: Kuipers (NED)