PASADENA, CALIFORNIA: Although James Rodriguez still has an injured shoulder, it didn’t prevent him from lifting Colombia into the Copa America quarterfinals.
Rodriguez scored a goal and set up another in the first 30 minutes, and Colombia clinched a berth in the next round with a 2-1 victory over Paraguay on Tuesday night.
Colombia became the first team to secure advancement to the knockout stage of the tournament with stellar goal-tending from David Ospina and another dynamic performance from Rodriguez, who shook off a shoulder problem that made his availability a game-time decision at the Rose Bowl.
The Real Madrid midfielder propelled Colombia to its second win in two matches, following the 2-0 victory over the United States last week in which Rodriguez was injured.
“With (Rodriguez) being such a great star with so much transcendence and desire, we had to be very prudent, but we never wrote him off,” Colombia coach Jose Pekerman said through a translator. “Not until this morning did we realize he was well and he could play. We’re lucky he recuperated quite well.”
Victor Ayala scored Paraguay’s first goal of the Copa America in the 71st minute on a long shot past Ospina, who still made a handful of jaw-dropping saves to keep Los Cafeteros in control.
USA SCORE FOUR
The fans stood and cheered when Clint Dempsey headed off the field in the second half, and the forward responded with his own round of applause.
Brad Guzan held his arms in the air after the final seconds of his happy homecoming.
After days of questions and criticism, it was a couple of perfect pictures for the United States.
Dempsey had a goal and two assists, and the U.S. rebounded from its opening loss in Copa America with a convincing 4-0 victory over Costa Rica on Tuesday night.