COLOMBIA ADVANCES Victory places them into semi-finals
PASADENA, Calif.---James Rodriguez had a goal and an assist to lead Colombia to a 2-1 win over Paraguay in a Copa American Centenario Group A match in front of over 42,000 fans at the Rose Bowl Tuesday night.
The win advances Colombia to the semi-final round of the tournament.
Rodriguez, who suffered a shoulder injury in the match against the United States on Saturday, was in the starting lineup.
Colombia opened the scoring in the 12th minute. Rodriguez lifted a corner kick into the penalty area. Carlos Bacca, with a defender draped all over him, got high enough to head the ball into the net past Paraguay goalkeeper Justo Villar from the top of the six-yard box to make it 1-0.
In the 16th minute Farid Diaz raced down the near side on a counter attack. Diaz’ cross into the penalty area found Rodriguez, whose hard shot from 14 yards out went over the crossbar.
Some anxious moments for Paraguay in the 24th minute. Colombia defender Jeison Murillo went up for a header on offense clashed heads with Villar trying to catch the ball and both went down in a heap. After some medical attention, Villar continued for Paraguay.
Colombia went on the attack again in the 30th minute. Off a corner kick into the penalty area, Bacca slipped the ball over to Edwin Cardona who found Rodriguez open. His left-footed shot from ten yards out went into the far corner to make it 2-0.
Paraguay seemed to ignite their offense late in the first half. Oscar Romero had a chance in the 44th minute when he deflected a pass into the six-yard box right into the chest of Colombia goalkeeper David Ospina from point-blank range.
And as stoppage time was running out, Paraguay was awarded a free kick from 20 yards out. Dario Lezcano’s hard shot was tipped by Ospina and bounced off the crossbar to keep it 2-0 in favor of Colombia at halftime. Lezcano, Paraguay’s hottest goal scorer had scored four goals in the last three qualifying matches for Paraguay.
Ospina kept Paraguay off the scoreboard in the 62nd minute. A corner kick sent into the penalty area found Romero whose header from the center of the area to the near corner of the net was stopped by the fingertips of Ospina diving to his right.
Victor Ayala, who came into the match in the second half, lifted Paraguay back into the match in the 71st minute. Ayala sent a right-footed bender from 24 yards out that got by Ospina and dipped into the far corner to make it 2-1. It was Ayala’s first goal for Paraguay in 18 appearances.
Romero received two yellow cards, one in the 79th minute and the second in the 81st minute from Referee Heber Lopes of Uruguay for dangerous plays that meant that Paraguay would play with just ten men for the rest of the match.
Colombia almost capitalized instantly when Cardona picked up a loose ball at midfield at sprinted down to take a shot. His strike hit the far post in the 82nd minute.
Celso Ortiz had the last chance for Paraguay in the 90+5’ when his blast from 20 yards out was stopped by Ospina to seal the win for Colombia.