Colombia swept Greece aside 3-0 to top Group C with Fiorentina’s Juan Cuadrado and Napoli’s Pablo Armero inspirational.
There were numerous Serie A faces in the Group C opener at the Estadio Mineirao, including Juan Cuadrado, Juan Camilo Zuniga of Napoli, Atalanta centre-back Mario Yepes and Cagliari forward Victor Ibarbo, but Inter midfielder Fredy Guarin was suspended.
Greece had some familiar names too, as Roma full-back Vasilis Torosidis and Bologna midfielder Panagiotis Kone started. Sokratis Papastathopoulos shook off an injury to play, but Kostas Mitroglu was not risked.
The Europeans kept eight clean sheets in 10 qualifiers, but conceded here within six minutes. Cuadrado rolled across from the right for Napoli-owned Pablo Armero, whose shot squirmed in with a slight deflection off Konstantinos Manolas at the back stick.
Kone drilled just wide moments later, while Ibarbo wasted a gold opportunity on the counter. Bologna star Kone forced David Ospina into a flying save on the stroke of half-time.
Greece threw on Genoa winger Yoannis Fetfatzidis, but Los Cafeteros doubled their lead. A corner was flicked on for Teo Gutierrez to toe-poke in from a couple of yards.
Theofanis Gekas should’ve got one back for the Europeans, but incredibly turned a free header on to the crossbar from five yards.
Georgios Samaras fired just wide, giving the Colombian back four another scare, but once again the South Americans were more accurate.
Zuniga took a free kick quickly and combined with Cuadrado to set up James Rodriguez for a well-placed finish. It means Cuadrado is the first Colombian ever to provide two assists in the same World Cup match and he achieved it on his tournament debut.
Colombia 3-0 Greece
Scorers: Armero 6 (C), Gutierrez 58 (C), J Rodriguez 93 (C)
Colombia: Ospina; Zuniga, Zapata, Yepes, Armero (Arias 74); Aguilar (Mejia 69), Sanchez; Cuadrado, J Rodriguez, Ibarbo; Gutierrez (J Martinez 76)
Greece: Karnezis; Torosidis, Manolas, Sokratis, Cholevas; Maniatis, Kone (Karagounis 78); Salpingidis (Fetfatzidis 57), Katsouranis, Samaras; Gekas (Mitroglu 64)
Ref: Geiger (USA)
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