Colombia beat Panama to enter Copa America semifinals

Glendale (US): James Rodriguez scored one goal and set up two others to help Colombia crush Panama 5-0 to enter the Copa America semifinals.

It took just eight minutes for Colombia to take the lead. Rodriguez’s in-swinging corner found Jhon Cordoba, whose header beat goalkeeper Orlando Mosquera at his far post.

Referee Maurizio Mariani pointed to the penalty spot later when Mosquera tripped Jhon Arias as the winger drove into the box. Rodriguez gave Mosquera no chance by thumping the resultant spot-kick into the top-right corner, reports Xinhua.

Panama almost reduced the deficit in the 18th minute through Roderick Miller, whose header following Eric Davis’ set piece rebounded off the post.

The Cafeteros made it 3-0 just before halftime through Luis Diaz. The Liverpool forward latched onto Rodriguez’s perfectly weighted free kick from behind the halfway line and, with his first touch, deftly lifted a shot over Mosquera.

Panama sat further back after halftime as Colombia found it more difficult to create scoring opportunities.

Richard Rios of Colombia further extended the lead in the 70th minute with a low drive from outside the box, while his teammate Miguel Borja, a 79th-minute substitute for Cordoba, sealed the 5-0 win.

The Cafeteros are unbeaten in their past 27 outings dating back almost two and a half years. All but three of those games have been under the command of Argentine manager Nestor Lorenzo, who replaced Reinaldo Rueda in June 2022.

Colombia will face either Brazil or Uruguay in Charlotte on July 10, with a place in the final at stake.

“We scored early and that helped us control the game,” Rodriguez, who has five assists in this tournament so far, said after the match. “I wanted to have a good Copa America and help the team try to reach the final. Now, we are a step closer to achieve that.”

–IANS

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