Colombia in quarters, do-or-die for Argentina | sports | Hindustan Times
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Colombia in quarters, do-or-die for Argentina

sports Updated: Jul 12, 2011 01:45 IST

Agencies
Highlight Story

Striker Radamel Falcao scored twice as Colombia beat Bolivia 2-0 to win Group A at the Copa America on Sunday. Colombia took seven points from their three matches, the best return of the tournament so far, to qualify for a quarter-final against the best third-placed team from the three groups in Cordoba next Saturday.

Bolivia were eliminated while hosts Argentina and Costa Rica are set to play for second place in Cordoba on Monday (0045 GMT Tuesday).

Falcao is now joint top scorer of a low-scoring tournament with a tally of two, equal with Peru's Paolo Guerrero, and the team went through without conceding a goal.

"These results put us in the quarter-finals with authority," Colombia's coach Hernan Dario Gomez told the post-match news conference.

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"Our objective is not to go looking for a goalscorer but our identity as a team," he said after Falcao scored the goals but Colombia created chances for several different players.

Falcao put the Colombians ahead after a quarter of an hour when he ran onto winger Dayro Moreno's defence-splitting ball down the left to steer it past goalkeeper Carlos Arias.

Falcao penalty
Colombia went further ahead close to the half hour with a penalty converted by Falcao after defender Santos Amador brought down left back Pablo Armero.

It was the second penalty of the tournament and the second faced by Arias after he saved one from Costa Rica's Joel Campbell in Bolivia's 2-0 defeat in Jujuy on Thursday.

"With the attitude of going out to win all the matches we knew things would happen for us. Today we got first place but if we don't make the most of it in the next match, it stops there. We want to carry on dreaming," Falcao told.

In a spot of bother
Struggling hosts Argentina have made four changes for Monday's match against Costa Rica which they must win to be sure of reaching the Copa America quarter-finals.

Coach Sergio Batista announced his line-up, aimed at freeing Lionel Messi from close marking in the middle, on the squad's arrival in Cordoba on Sunday night. Costa Rica, second in Group A after a 1-0 win over Bolivia, and Argentina, who have drawn twice, meet at Cordoba. "We needed more ball movement and Fernando (Gago) does that very well," Batista told, referring to using the Real Madrid midfielder in place of Ever Banega.

The plan, with a midfield that helped Batista's Olympic team win the soccer gold medal at the Beijing Games in 2008, is to allow Messi to roam, mainly on the right, and draw markers away from the Argentine creative hub while also joining it at will.

Messi, in a roaming centre forward role in the first two matches, suffered the close attentions of several players in scaled marking. A frustrated Messi and the rest of the players were booed off the pitch in Santa Fe but Batista said he would never think of dropping the genius. "The idea is always to build a team around Messi... He can play badly a while, but he can always show you something," Batista said.