In their final group match at the 2014 World Cup the Japanese national side took on Colombia in a match that would help determine the final standings for Group C. A win by Japan (along with a Greek victory) would see Japan leapfrog the Ivory Coast for 2nd place in the group and advance into the knockout round.
Colombia had already assured themselves the winners of the group by winning their first two matches. Japan was hoping for a Colombian team with some key players rested from the heat and humidity of Brazil to save them for the knockout round, however the Colombians came out flying, scoring on a penalty just 17 minutes in.
However at the very end of first half stoppage time, the Japanese team drew level through Shinji Okazaki on a brilliant goal that curled past the keeper, leaving the match deadlocked at 1-1 at the half.
Shortly after halftime, however, the Colombians scored again. This time Jackson Martinez scored to put Japan’s hopes of advancement under threat again, as Japan would need 2 more goals to even think about qualification. Colombia was seeking to join the likes of Brazil and Argentina as South American teams to qualify for the knockout rounds by winning all their group matches.
In the 82nd minute, Martinez did it again. 3-1 to Colombia with little time left, but Colombia were not done. In the 90th minute, 22 year old James Rodriguez scored another wonderful goal. The final score was 4-1, and Japan’s hopes were sufficiently dashed.
Prior to the tournament, the talk about Colombia was the injury to vaunted Monaco striker Radmael Falcao, and yet even without the injured striker the Colombians had plenty of firepower to lead them to the top of the group and on to the knockout round, thanks in no small part to his Monaco teammate, James Rodriguez.
Colombia advances to the knockout round for the first time since 1990.
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