Belfast Telegraph

Colombia keep dream alive as Poland crash out

Poland 0 Colombia 3

By Kim Brown

Colombia kept alive their hopes of making the last 16 and knocked Poland out of the World Cup with a terrific 3-0 victory in Kazan.

The 2014 quarter-finalists had been in danger of elimination following an opening loss to Japan, but they produced a brilliant ­attacking display against the Poles as Yerry Mina, Radamel Falcao and Juan Cuadrado all scored.

Senegal and Japan's draw means the Colombians are still only third in Group H, but they know victory over the Senegalese on Thursday will seal their progress and set up a last-16 showdown with either England or Belgium.

Colombia's surprise defeat to Japan had included a sending-off inside three minutes for Carlos Sanchez, but there were few moments of note in the early exchanges here.

The attacking triumvirate of James Rodriguez, Cuadrado and Juan Fernando Quintero were all involved in the first goal just five minutes before the break which came from a short corner. Rodriguez was allowed space to deliver a perfect cross from the right that Mina just had to guide beyond an oncoming Szczesny with his head.

But nobody scored more goals across Europe in qualifying than Poland's Robert Lewandowski, and the Bayern Munich man caught Mina napping after the restart. The Polish captain did brilliantly to bring the ball down only for Arsenal goalkeeper David Ospina to bravely block the one-on-one effort.

Yet Poland's hopes of getting back into the contest were dashed 20 minutes from time when Falcao, who was ruled out of the 2014 tournament through injury, scored his country's second. He was released by a terrific ball from Quintero, who weighted the pass perfectly to allow Falcao to take one touch and coolly slot an outside-of-the-foot finish into the net.

Colombia were not done there and their third goal may have been the pick of the bunch.

Rodriguez created it from the byline when he spotted Cuadrado in space down the middle. The ex-Chelsea winger took two touches to race through and then placed his effort beyond Juventus team-mate Szczesny and into the corner of the net to send the Poles home and the Colombian fans into a frenzy.

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