Colombia breathed new life into their World Cup campaign with a scintillating display to beat Poland 3-0 at the Kazan Arena on Sunday.
- Poland 0 Colombia 3
- Mina (40′) heads home dinked cross from James
- Ospina denies Lewandowski at point-blank range
- Falcao (70′) produces silky finish from inside box
- Cuadrado (75′) caps off blistering counter
Yerry Mina gave Jose Pekerman’s side a well-deserved first-half lead to put them in the ascendancy. It set the tone for a brilliant second-half performance where Radamel Falcao and Juan Cuadrado scored to get their campaign back on track after they lost their opening game to Japan.
Both teams came into this encounter knowing that the loser would not progress beyond the group stage.
A cagey opening few minutes came as little surprise in the first-ever competitive match between the two countries. Half-chances were all the crowd could feed off before the game started to open up just past the 20 minute mark.
It was Los Cafeteros who enjoyed the first real chance. James Rodriguez played in Falcao, who sprinted through on goal and then tried to set up Cuadrado with a clever backheel, but got his execution all wrong.
In the 37th minute, Cuadrado almost broke the deadlock with a magical piece of skill and control. The winger dribbled his way passed Maciej Rybus and drifted beyond Grzegorz Krychowiak, but his finish from an acute angle fizzed across goal.
Poland were battling to keep possession of the ball, allowing the South Americans to run at them, perhaps hoping to pounce with a swift counter.
However, Colombia hit the front five minutes before half-time as James combined well with Cuadrado and Quintero to deliver an inch-perfect cross for Mina to steer a towering header past Wojciech Szczesny.
They began the second half with the same intensity as the first and could have doubled their lead in the 51st minute if not for a wasteful Falcao. Cuadrado found the striker in space outside the box, but he rushed his first-time shot which sailed over the bar.
The Poles manufactured a chance against the run of play a few minutes later. From deep in his own half, Jan Bednarek’s long ball found Robert Lewandowski, who showed good control to bring it down and shoot, but David Ospina rushed out and produced a good save with his chest.
Adam Nawalka’s men were hoping to build on that chance but they got caught out with a swift counter in 70th minute. The lively Quintero threaded a defence-splitting pass to Falcao, who rolled back the years with a delightful low finish with the outside of his right boot.
Just five minutes later the Colombians put the final nail into Poland’s coffin with a scintillating move. James delivered a wonderful ball across the defence from just inside the opposition half for Cuadrado to run onto. With plenty of work still do, the Juventus winger out-sprinted Michal Pazdan and Rybus before stroking the ball beyond Szczesny.
With two minutes left on the clock, Lewandowski struck a fierce shot from well outside the box, drawing a good fingertip save from Ospina. It was an effort that summed up Poland’s performance; they simply failed to get out of the starting blocks.