Radamel Falcao Garcia scored in the eighth minute and Carlos Bacca added a pair of goals two minutes apart in the second half to give Colombia a 3-0 victory over El Salvador in the first of two U.S. friendlies at Red Bull Arena for both clubs.
Falcao, who missed the World Cup because of a knee injury, joined a nominally full regular Colombian national side in front of a heavily partisan and passionate sellout crowd of 25,000 yellow-clad Colombian fans.
Colombia pressed from the opening but El Salvador that created the first chance, a blast from 40 yards in the fifth minute by Marvin Monterrosa that goalkeeper Camilo Vargas had to leap to push away at the right post.
Colombia quickly seized the initiative and went ahead when Falcao outleapt Milton Molina just outside the six-yard box to get his head to Santiago Arias’s cross, and drove it past goalkeeper Henry Hernandez. The goal was Falcao’s first for Colombia since Nov. 14, 2013, when he scored in a 2-0 friendly victory over Belgium.
“I think we’re happy to be able watch Falcao once again score a goal with the national team,” Colombia coach Jose Pekerman said through a translator. “We were hoping that it was going to happen. And that’s very important tonight.”
The “Cafeteros” continued to push forward, causing El Salvador to counter by dropping into a five-man back line.
The Central Americans managed to counter on rare occasions, with Rafael Burgos shooting wide in the 24th and Monterrosa having El Salvador’s best chance deflected high over the bar in the 42nd.
But Colombia had the upper hand and took control when Bacca capitalized twice on El Salvador’s defensive scrambles to score in the 49th and 51st minutes.
“In the second half, obviously the goals came fast,” Pekerman said. “That was clearly key. It enabled the team to relax and seal off the game.”
The first resulted when Hernandez tried to punch clear a cross, but the ball fell to Falcao, who turned and hit a shot that struck Molina in the chest. The rebound fell to Bacca, who had nothing but an empty goal in front of him.
Moments later, James Rodriguez curled a cross into the area to Falcao, who tried to settle the ball off his chest. Again it fell fortuitously to Bacca in front of the net and he easily converted.
El Salvador coach Alberto Roca said he was satisfied with the effort, but acknowledged Colombia was more than his team could handle.
“In the first half we played well,” he said. “We had Colombia on the back foot at times. But the errors that we committed in the second half is what cost us. And ultimately when you look at the difference between the two teams, that’s what made the difference.”
Colombia and El Salvador will return to Red Bull Arena on Tuesday. El Salvador will face Ecuador while Colombia will play Canada in a doubleheader.