Japan bow out after heavy Colombia loss

23:50, Jun 24 2014
Teo Gutierrez
Teo Gutierrez celebrates Colombia's second goal in a 3-0 rout of Greece in Belo Horizonte.
James Rodriguez
James Rodriguez (bottom) celebrates Colombia's third goal against Greece.
Orestis Karnezis
Greece goalkeeper Orestis Karnezis watches as Colombia's first goal rolls across the line.
Colombians
Colombia players dance in unison after their first goal in Belo Horizonte.
Giorgos Samaras
Greece's Giorgos Samaras holds the ball as Colombia's Juan Camilo Zuniga hassles him.
Panagiotis Kone
Greece's Panagiotis Kone reacts after missing an open shot.
Didier Drogba
Didier Drogba of the Ivory Coast controls the ball against Keisuke Honda of Japan during their Group C match.
Celebration
The Ivory Coast celebrate their second goal scored by Gervinho during the Group C match between the Ivory Coast and Japan.
Yaya Toure
Maya Yoshida of Japan tackles Yaya Toure of the Ivory Coast.
Japan fans
Supporters of Japan cheer during their 2014 World Cup Group C soccer match against Ivory Coast.
Japan goal
Keisuke Honda of Japan (2nd L) celebrates scoring the team's first goal with teammates during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group C match between the Ivory Coast and Japan
Slide
Yuto Nagatomo of Japan tackles Gervinho of the Ivory Coast during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group C match between the Ivory Coast and Japan
Teo Gutierrez
Teo Gutierrez high-fives team-mates after Juan Quintero made it 2-0 in the 70th minute against Ivory Coast.
Serge Aurier
Ivory Coast's Serge Aurier runs towards a big ball during the Group C match between Colombia and Ivory Coast.
Wilfried Bony
Colombia's Cristian Zapata watches as Ivory Coast's Wilfried Bony jumps.
Colombia fans
Colombia fans celebrate Juan Quintero's goal during the Group C match between Colombia and Ivory Coast.
Vanishing spray
Referee Howard Webb of England sprays vanishing spray on the pitch during the Group C match between Colombia and Ivory Coast.
Juan Quintero
Colombia's Juan Quintero scores his team's second goal past Ivory Coast's goalkeeper Boubacar Barry.
Japan v Greece
Yoshito Okubo of Japan is challenged by Sokratis Papastathopoulos of Greece
Japan v Greece
Eiji Kawashima of Japan punches clear during the 2Group C match between Japan and Greece.
Japan v Greece
Greece's Giorgios Samaras commits a foul against Japan's Atsuto Uchida.
Japan v Greece
Japan's Yoshito Okubo reacts after missing a chance to score a goal during their Group C match against Greece.
Japan v Greece
Fans arrive before the Group C match between Japan and Greece.
Japan v Greece
Greece's Vasilis Torosidis heads the ball against Japan.
Colombia v Japan
Japan's Yoshito Okubo tries to score past Colombia's Carlos Valdes.
Colombia v Japan
Colombia's James Rodriguez scores their fourth goal against Japan.
Colombia v Japan
Japan's Keisuke Honda reacts after Colombia scored their fourth goal.
Colombia v Japan
Colombia's Santiago Arias (R) fights for the ball with Japan's Shinji Kagawa
Colombia v Japan
Yoshito Okubo of Japan and Eder Alvarez Balanta of Colombia.
Colombia v Japan
Colombia's goalkeeper David Ospina stops an attempt at goal as Japan's Yoshito Okubo jumps against Pablo Armero.
Greece v Ivory Coast
Greece's Giorgios Samaras goes down in the challenge of Ivory Coast's Giovanni Sio to win a penalty.
Greece v Ivory Coast
Greece's Giorgios Samaras consoles Ivory Coast's Boubacar Barry, after he scored a penalty past Barry.
Greece v Ivory Coast
Greece celebrate after defeating the Ivory Coast 2-1.
Greece v Ivory Coast
Serge Aurier of the Ivory Coast challenges Giorgos Samaras of Greece.
Greece v Ivory Coast
A general view of action as Giorgos Karagounis of Greece takes a free kick during the Group C match against the Ivory Coast.
Greece v Ivory Coast
Ivory Coast's Wilfried Bony scores against Greece.

James Rodriguez scored a brilliant goal and set up two more for Jackson Martinez as Colombia routed Japan 4-1 this morning to confirm top spot in Group C and eliminate the Asian champions from the World Cup. 

Already assured of advancing, Colombia guaranteed first place with their third straight win, setting up a second-round match against Uruguay.  The Colombians started with a virtual second-string lineup but still went in front when Juan Cuadrado - one of the few regular starters - drilled in a 17th-minute penalty. 

Japan equalised with the last touch of the first half through Shinji Okazaki's header but Martinez scored in the 55th and 82nd minutes - both from superb passes from substitute Rodriguez - to put the result beyond doubt.  

James Rodriguez
STAR MAN: James Rodriguez wheels away after scoring Colombia's fourth goal against Japan.

Rodriguez capped it off with his stunning solo goal in the 89th, turning his marker inside out before chipping the advancing goalkeeper with a deft finish that bore all the hallmarks of the great Lionel Messi.

That made it nine goals for Colombia in the group stage, and the South Americans are proving to be the World Cup's big entertainers. 

The introduction of Rodriguez tilted the game back Colombia's way after Japan finished the first half stronger, with Okazaki's goal having given Alberto Zaccheroni's side a slim chance of progressing. 

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Although Japanese fans will have been keeping one eye on the match being played simultaneously between Ivory Coast and Greece in Fortaleza, their players only had one mission: win three points and see if that would be enough. 

It didn't open to plan, with Japan going behind to a penalty that was needlessly given away by Konno, who lunged into a challenge on Adrian Ramos. 

Despite Japan's protests, it was a clear foul and Cuadrado had no difficulty converting the spot kick. 

The goal left Japan susceptible to the counter-attack as they pushed forward in search of two goals. 

At the other end, there was a lack of cutting edge - Shinji Kagawa had a weak shot saved and Keisuke Honda wasted three free kicks from good positions - before Honda crossed for Okazaki to head in at the near post with what was the last touch of the half. 

Rodriguez - one of many regulars rested at the start by coach Jose Pekerman - was introduced for the second half and he made an immediate difference, livening up the crowd and the team's attacking play with his turn of speed and precision passing. 

Within 10 minutes, he had created Martinez's goal, running onto the ball and playing in his team-mate  with a cute pass for the striker to take one touch and shoot left-footed low into the corner. 

The FC Porto striker made it 3-1 with a curling left-foot finish, this time following a reverse pass from Rodriguez. 

 

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