RIO DE JANEIRO — James Rodriguez scored one of the best goals of the tournament and then added a second to put Colombia into the World Cup quarterfinals for the first time with a 2-0 win over Uruguay today.
Rodriguez gave his team the lead with a stunning long-range volley on the turn in the 28th minute and netted the second from close range shortly after the break as Colombia dominated a Uruguay side that sorely missed banned striker Luis Suarez.
Rodriguez now has a tournament-leading five goals in Brazil and further enhanced his status as perhaps the tournament’s biggest revelation.
Uruguay, meanwhile, struggled badly in attack without Suarez and his replacement Diego Forlan was substituted in the 53rd after a disappointing performance in what was probably his final World Cup appearance.
Colombia will play Brazil in the quarterfinals on July 4 in Fortaleza after the host beat Chile in a penalty shootout earlier Saturday.
Rodriguez showed once again that the Brazilians have every reason to be wary.
The opener was his most spectacular goal yet. He chested the ball down with his back to goal well outside the area and in one fluid motion turned around and fired a left-foot volley that went off the underside of the crossbar and into the net.
His second was a perfectly executed team move as Colombia worked the ball over from the right flank to the left, where Pablo Armero sent in a cross that was met by Juan Cuadrado at the far post. Cuadrado headed back across goal toward Rodriguez, who slotted in from just a few yards (meters) out.
Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez tried to respond with a double substitution, taking off Forlan and Alvaro Pereira for Gaston Ramirez and Cristhian Stuani. That livened up the attack, with goalkeeper David Ospina having to make good saves from Cristhian Rodriguez and Maxi Pereira before diving to push away a shot from Edinson Cavani in the 84th.
But in the end Uruguay simply couldn’t cope without Suarez, who was banned for four months for biting an opponent in the group-stage victory against Italy that sent the team through to the next round. Suarez also missed Uruguay’s first game of the tournament, a 3-1 loss to Costa Rica, before scoring both goals in a 2-1 win over England.
Forlan was named the best player of the 2010 World Cup but again looked well past his prime and leaves Brazil without scoring a goal.
Rodriguez was taken off near the end to a standing ovation, and then rushed onto the field with his teammates at the final whistle.