RIO DE JANEIRO, June 29 (IANS): James Rodriguez�s double strike at the Maracana stadium here Saturday gave Colombia a comprehensive 2-0 win over Uruguay and took them to their first FIFA World Cup quarterfinal appearance, where they will take on hosts Brazil.
Rodriguez, who now leads the Golden Boot race with three goals and also has three assists, starred for a Colombian side that will face Brazil in Fortaleza Friday.
Brazil sneaked past Chile in the first round of 16 match after a 3-2 penalty shootout win. The two teams were tied 1-1 at the end of extra time.
The hosts will need to be very wary of Colombia, who were cohesive and purposeful in attack. Their quick interplay caused the Uruguayan defence huge problems.
Colombia attacking trio of Rodriguez, Juan Cuadrado and Jackson Martinez could cause an error-prone Brazilian defence massive headaches.
A wonder strike from Rodriguez in the 28th minute gave Colombia the deserved lead. The Monaco attacker�s second came in the 50th minute from a close range shot that took the stuffing out of the 2010 South Africa semi-finalists.
It was a fine first half performance from Colombia, who had breezed through the group stages with three consecutive wins.
The absence of star striker Luis Suarez was clearly noticeable as the Uruguayan attackers, including the highly-rated Edison Cavani, posed little threat to the opposition in the first half.
The first half initially trudged along in tight fashion and it was unclogged in the most glorious fashion by Rodriguez.
Colombia controlled the pace and the rhythm of the game.
The 22-year-old playmaker lit up the Maracana with a dream volley.
He controlled the ball on his chest before swiveling and in the same motion lashing a fierce 20 metre left-footed volley that went in off the underside of the crossbar.
Uruguay were on the back foot for much of the game up until that goal, But adversity seemed to have brought them out of their shell.
They largely dictated the tempo in the latter stages of the half but couldn�t really make Colombia goalkeeper Ospina work.
Colombia, who were unbeaten in their last 10 games, again took the initiative at the start of the second half and were immediately awarded.
It was a splendidly worked goal from Colombia with Rodriguez finishing a delightful header cutback from Cuadrado.
As Colombia seemed to take the foot of the gas, Uruguay finally began to show a bit of urgency.
Colombia sat back and invited pressure. Christian Rodrigiez almost made them pay, skipping past four players before testing the Colombia keeper.
Uruguay, to their credit, gave it their all in the end, testing Ospina on numerous occasions but they still failed to score.