Poland crash out of World Cup after Colombia defeat
Radamel Falcao (Supplied)
Kazan Arena - Radamel Falcao, Yerry Mina
and Juan Cuadrado scored their maiden World Cup goals as stylish
Colombia boosted their last 16 hopes with a comprehensive 3-0 win over
Poland on Sunday.
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In a match destined to see the loser sent home
after the group stages, Colombia overcame a nervous start against Adam
Nawalka's men to move up to third place in Group H, one point behind
Japan and Senegal.
The disappointing Poland became the first European side eliminated from the tournament.
South Americans' bid for a place in the last 16 will be determined by
the results from their final game with Senegal, who drew 2-2 with Japan
earlier in the day.
Colombia's march to the quarter-finals in
Brazil four years ago came thanks to James Rodriguez's six-goal tally
for 'Los Cafeteros'.
And days after a troublesome calf injury
restricted him to a half-hour cameo role as 10-man Colombia stumbled to a
2-1 defeat against Japan, the Bayern Munich midfielder was back to his
Starting alongside Juan Quintero and Cuadrado on the right, Colombia's ultra-offensive starting line-up was a forewarning.
riding a tense start that forced Mina and then Wilmar Barrios to react
quickly to thwart early threats from Robert Lewandowski, Colombia
eventually got into their stride.
Cuadrado was wasteful on several occasions when finding space deep on the right flank.
Juventus winger's trickery would eventually pay dividends, but it was
Falcao - who has dreamed all his life of scoring a World Cup goal -
who turned on the style, dancing through the Polish defence to win the
corner that led to Colombia's opener.
Rodriguez's short corner
eventually found Quintero, whose smart through ball back to Rodriguez
gave him time and space to curl a perfect left-footed cross that Mina
rose to header powerfully past Szczesny on 40 minutes.
resumed in positive fashion, Cuadrado holding up well to set up Falcao
for a first-time drive that sailed over Szczesny's crossbar.
A Colombia counter saw Falcao's drive from the edge of the area deflected out for a corner.
Nawalka replaced Dawid Kownacki with the more experienced Kamil Grosicki and the switch almost paid dividends.
the bravery of goalkeeper David Ospina saved Colombia from conceding
what looked like the equaliser when he rushed out to block from
Lewandowski after the Bayern Munich striker did well to get a shot away
from a long ball from midfield.
Poland threatened again, but when
Lewandowski got his head to a cross into the area he was marked by both
Mina and Davinson Sanchez.
Colombia, however, were not to be denied.
right-back Sanitago Arias found Quintero, the midfielder sliced
Poland's defence apart with a low pass that found Falcao on the run
before he beat Szczesny down low with the outside of his right boot.
minutes later, Rodriguez produced arguably the assist of the night,
drawing several Polish players on the left flank before somehow finding
Cuadrado on the run with a superb cross-field pass that the pacey winger