Colombia secured a spot in the knock-out stage as they outplayed Paraguay 2-1 in a thrilling Centenario Copa America Group A clash at Rose Bowl on Tuesday.
The sides chose a slow tempo to begin with, playing mostly in the middle third of the pitch.
Things changed when Bacca opened the scoring for Colombia in the 12th minute from a Rodriguez corner.
James whipped in a decisive in swinging cross and Bacca jumped above Samudio to lodge a powerful header back into the net.
Paraguay held on to their nerves winning the ball in the midfield and central areas but Colombia had an upper hand as they dominated down the flanks.
The opening goal induced more pace into the game and Colombia had an opportunity to double the lead in the 16th minute. Diaz pulled back to feed Rodriguez, who lodged a powerful left-footed shot at the near post but Villar managed to react to keep it out.
Paraguay were on the back foot as the deadly combination with the likes of Cuadrado, Bacca and Rodriguez were brilliant on the counter-attack and managed to work the ball into the box with ease.
Colombia kept on maintaining the pressure and had a scoring opportunity in the 20th minute. Cuadrado whipped in a cross which almost found Bacca in the danger area but Gomez managed to head the ball into the safe zone.
Rodriguez scored the second to put his team on the driving seat in the 30th minute. Bacca rushed into the Paraguay box before being cut out, but Cardona managed to steal the ball and rolled it into the path of Rodriguez. The Real Madrid star fired low into the bottom corner with his left foot to beat the goalkeeper.
Paraguay had their opportunities mainly from set-pieces but they failed to make it count. Da Silva managed to flick a decisive free-kick over Ospina and back into the net, but the linesman waved the flag for offside.
A brilliant save from David Ospina denied Paraguay of a scoring chance in the dying minutes of the first half. Lezcano’s strike from a set piece took a touch from Ospina to hit the crossbar.
Paraguay came back strong after the restart and looked in better shape. Ramon Diaz’s side displayed incredible work rate and managed to rush into the Colombia box through the flanks and down the middle every now and then.
Paraguay almost clinched their opener in the 62nd minute but an acrobatic Ospina had some other plans. Romero met an outswinging corner and thumped a header onto the top left corner but the Arsenal goalkeeper went full stretch to knock the ball out.
Ayala pulled one back for Paraguay and scored his first international goal in the 71st minute with a brilliant effort from 25 yards. He picked up the ball well and moved towards the right of the goal before thumping in a thunderous strike from 25 yards over the head of Ospina into the top corner.
A brilliant counter-attack from Paraguay in the 75th minute had almost set up the equalising goal but a mindblowing save from the Arsenal goalkeeper added to their frustration. Sanabria skipped Zapata’s challenge and whipped in a through ball to find Benitez on the right. The striker lodged a sliding strike at goal but Ospina jumped across to the far post to hold on to the ball.
Paraguay were down to ten men after Romero received the second yellow less than two minutes after picking up his first. Colombia capitalised on the situation and almost put the game to bed but Cardona’s strike hit the post in the 83rd minute.
Colombia with 2 wins from 2 matches are comfortably placed at the top of the table and will play against Costa Rica in their last Group A fixture.