Match report: Colombia tops Costa Rica, 3-1, at Red Bull Arena
It was a cool, crisp Tuesday evening in Harrison, but the action on the field was anything but when Colombia brought its typical South American flair to dismantle Costa Rica by a score of 3-1.
The opening minutes saw Colombia knocking the ball around Costa Rica’s midfielders with confidence and ease. Its quality on the ball was overwhelming for Los Ticos as its stars shined bright.
A squad littered with talents from European powerhouses such as James Rodriguez at Bayern Munich, Davinson Sanchez at Tottenham, and Radamel Falcao at Monaco proved to be too much when they notched the opening goal in the 30th minute.
After being on the front foot for several minutes, Colombia’s domination came to fruition when their talisman, Carlos Bacca, broke the deadlock.
The Colombian front man got the ball played out wide to his feet and the Villareal star did it himself from there, shielding two Costa Rican defenders who were draped on his back and smashing the ball into Kaylor Nava’s near post.
The roars and cheers of the 18,000 in attendance shook Red Bull Arena to its core as Los Cafeteros jumped out to the early lead.
Even with Colombia enjoying 65 percent of the possession, Costa Rica slowly grew into the match leading into halftime.
Los Ticos looked threatening on the counterattack through the wing play of the former Arsenal man, Joel Campbell and current Celtic star right-back Cristian Gamboa.
In the 44th minute Costa Rica got its reward when Gamboa whipped in a cross to the forehead of Vancouver Whitecaps defender Kendall Waston, who produced a thumping header into the side netting to bring his side level just seconds before the halftime whistle.
The second half, however, began much like the first with Colombia being afforded time and space to move the ball as desired.
Colombia continued to mount attack after attack, forcing Real Madrid keeper Kaylor Navas into a flurry of saves in the early goings.
International superstar and current midfielder for the Bavarian giants Bayern Munich, James Rodriguez, looked to be the catalyst for his Colombian side throughout the match. A well cultured, in-swinging ball played to the far post landed directly at the feet of defender Davinson Sanchez, but the big man was unable to direct the ball into Nava’s exposed goal.
James played with the desire and leadership qualities that former Bayern star Lothar Matthaus openly criticized him for lacking recently in Spanish media. His undeniable talent was on full display in the 72nd minute when a moment of pure class and brilliance pushed Colombia to regain its deserved advantage.
Costa Rica got caught on the break after attempting to mount a counter-attack of their own and James found himself in acres of space on the right flank, allowing him to play an inch perfect pass with the outside of his preferred left boot.
The pass took two defenders out of the play and opened up a shooting lane for the substitute Juan Cuadrado. The Juventus winger tried to curl a shot around the keepers outstretched left arm, but was denied as Navas parried away his shot directly into the path of Cuadrado’s teammate Juan Camlio Hernandez.
Hernandez, on his international debut, made himself the beneficiary of some beautiful build-up play by placing himself in the right place at the right time to head home the rebound and restore Colombia’s lead.
The teenage sensation proved why he’s currently a Barcelona transfer target when he notched a brace to double Colombia’s lead in stoppage time, completing the dismantling of a weaker Costa Rica side.
Colombia’s youthful lineup Tuesday night played lively and looked strong as a whole. The 19 year-old Juan “Cucho” Hernandez stole the show with his two goals, but 22 year-old Davinson Sanchez from Tottenham Hotspur was solid in defense, a position that has historically been Colombia’s weakness.
Questions within CONCACAF
The four major players in North and Central America and not one of them was able to pickup a win. Mexico once again lost to Chile, this time at home, by a scoreline of 0-1. Panama drew 2-2 in South Korea while the USMNT blew a lead in the final five minutes to draw Peru 1-1 in East Hartford, CT. So it raises the question; who is the true powerhouse in CONCACAF?
James Answers His Critics
Bayern and Germany legend Lothar Matthaus took a shot at the Colombian, criticizing his attitude during the Bundesliga Champion’s current slump. German publication Bild has recently reported that James lashed out at coach Nico Kovac and requested to leave the club. Colombia’s no. 10 sure looked involved in Tuesday’s match, setting up two goals.
Kaylor Navas; Bryan Oviedo, Kendall Watson, Giancarlo Gonzalez (Ulises Segura), Cristian Gamboa (Ian Smith); Ronald Matarrita, Allan Cruz (Jailon Haddon), David Guzman, Bryan Ruiz (C) (Randall Leal); David Ramirez (Barlon Sequeira), Joel Campbell (Johan Venagas)
Unused substitutes: Oscar Duarte, Mayron George, Francisco Calvo, Estaban Alvarado, Jimmy Marin, Leonel Moreira
David Ospina; Santiago Arias, Davinson Sanchez, Oscar Murillo, Cristian Borja; Wilmar Barrios, Mateus Uribe (Juan Cuadrado), Juan Quintaro (Edwin Cardona), James Rodriguez (Juan Daniel Roa; Radamel Falcao (C) (Miguel Borja), Carlos Bacca (Juan Hernandez)
Unused substitutes: Felipe Aguilar, Didier Moreno, Alvaro Montero, Helibelton Palacios, Yimmi Chara, Devier Machado, Sebastian Villa
COL – 30′ Carlos Bacca (James Rodriguez)
CRC – 44′ Kendall Waston (Cristian Gamboa)
COL – 72′ Juan Hernandez
COL – 90′ Juan Hernandez (Juan Cuadrado)
CRC – 45′ Bryan Oviedo (yellow)
COL – 45′ Santiago Arias (yellow)
CRC – 63′ Johan Venegas (yellow)
COL – 78′ Edwin Cardona (yellow)
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