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Jun 19, 2014

Colombia edge past Ivory Coast

ColombiaColombia
Ivory CoastIvory Coast
2
1
ESPN, ESPN3 FT
Match 21. Watch Highlights
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2014 FIFA World Cup Group C: Colombia 2-1 Ivory Coast

Colombia closed in on the knockout stages of the World Cup after beating Ivory Coast 2-1 in a fiercely contested Group C clash in Brasilia.

- Vickery: Falcao absence gives Colombia new options
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- Pekerman: Colombia meeting expectations
- Lamouchi: I'm not obsessed with Drogba
- Serey Die explains prematch tears

James Rodriguez fired Colombia ahead just after the hour with a powerful header from a corner, with substitute Juan Quintero adding a second on the break.

A fine individual goal from Roma forward Gervinho set up a tense finale, but the Elephants could not find an equaliser.

Both sides went into the clash at the Estadio Nacional having opened their World Cup campaign with a victory.

Colombia manager Jose Pekerman named the same starting XI that helped defeat Greece 3-0, with captain Mario Yepes earning his 100th cap.

Ivory Coast, meanwhile, again left talisman Didier Drogba on the bench -- the former Chelsea striker was carrying a thigh injury, but still had an impact as a substitute in the 2-1 win over Japan in Recife.

It was Los Cafeteros who made the more positive opening, with Teofilo Gutierrez firing wide from the edge of the penalty area.

Ivory Coast defender Didier Zokora needed to make an important block after Juan Cuadrado had got away down the right.

On 23 minutes, there was the first opening for the Elephants when a powerful run from captain Yaya Toure released Gervinho, but he was quickly hustled off the ball.

Colombia should have been ahead on the half-hour when a counterattack down the left saw the ball played into the penalty area for Gutierrez.

However, the River Plate forward, who looked to be offside, made a complete hash of his shot from 6 yards out and stabbed the ball wide.

Ivory Coast full-back Serge Aurier, linked with a summer move to Arsenal, sent in a low drive from 18 yards, which was comfortably saved by Colombia goalkeeper David Ospina.

At the start of the second half, English referee Howard Webb waved away somewhat hopeful penalty appeals from Ivory Coast after Gervinho went down under a challenge from Yepes.

On 55 minutes, Zokora was shown a yellow card for a late challenge on Cuadrado, which meant the onetime Tottenham defender would miss the final group match against Japan.

An ambitious bicycle kick from Swansea forward Wilfried Bony did not come off before, at the other end, Cuadrado's shot was pushed onto the post by Ivory Coast goalkeeper Boubacar Barry.

On the hour, Elephants manager Sabri Lamouchi made a change, when Drogba replaced Bony.

It was Colombia, though, who took the lead on 64 minutes when Monaco forward Rodriguez headed home from a corner.

There was immediately a second substitution for Ivory Coast as former Leicester and Leeds wideman Max Gradel was replaced by ex-Chelsea forward Salomon Kalou.

Colombia doubled their lead on 70 minutes with a breakaway goal.

Gutierrez fed Quintero as the pair closed down some poor Ivory Coast defending on the half-way line.

The Porto forward took the ball on to the edge of the penalty area before drilling it past Barry.

Ivory Coast needed a response -- and got one through Gervinho's second goal of the World Cup on 73 minutes.

The winger, much maligned during his spell with Arsenal, collected the ball on the left, weaved into the penalty area and rode three challenges before smashing a shot inside the near post which Ospina got a hand to but could not keep out.

Ivory Coast were lifted by the goal and went in search of an equaliser, with substitute Mathis Bolly just unable to guide a diving header on target before Kalou shot straight at the goalkeeper.

Drogba almost got on the end of a long through ball during stoppage time, but Ospina was out quickly to make a clearance, leaving the Elephants probably needing victory in their final group match against Greece to keep chances of progress alive.

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