Host nation Colombia became the first team to reach the knockout stages of the Under 20 World Cup by beating Mali 2-0 on Tuesday.
Colombia has two convincing wins in its two games and even with one group game to go, it is guaranteed of finishing either in the top two in Group A or being among the best of the third-place teams.
The host nation’s form also signaled it was a legitimate contender for the title along with teams such as Spain, Brazil, Nigeria and six-time champion Argentina.
Jose Valencia scored for Colombia in the 23rd minute and James Rodriguez added another in the 90th, giving the South Americans six points in two matches following a 4-1 opening game victory over France.
“I’m happy not only for the goal but because I helped the team reach our first goal which was to advance to the next round,” Colombia’s James Rodriguez said. “Mali was a tough opponent, but we played at a high level and that was important.”
The last set of games in Group A will be on Friday when Colombia takes on South Korea at Bogota and Mali faces France in Cali. Colombia has six points, France and South Korea have three and Mali zero.
The top two teams in each of the six groups advance to the knockout stage and are joined by the top four third-place teams.