Colombia began the second phase of their World Cup 2014 qualifying campaign in style as they crushed Bolivia 5-0 to move into second in the CONMEBOL table.
The result never looked in doubt after the hosts took a first-half lead through Macnelly Torres. Carlos Valdes made it 2-0 just after the break before Barranquilla-born Teo Gutierrez grabbed his ninth international goal.
Radamel Falcao predictably got on the score sheet as he found space in the area to convert a cross from the left before substitute Pablo Armero capped a perfect day for Colombia with his first ever international goal.
Bolivia posed little attacking threat throughout as Colombia maintained their remarkable record of not conceding a home goal since Jose Pekerman took charge.
Los Cafeteros have now won four qualifying games on the bounce and remain on course to end their long wait for World Cup qualification.
Colombia’s last World Cup appearance was in 1998 but if they continue to show this sort of form then a place at Brazil 2014 is a distinct possibility.
The match got underway after a minutes silence marking the passing of former Colombian goalkeeper Miguel Calero who died December 4, 2012.
The hosts twice had the ball in the back of the net early on but were denied on both occasions by the assistant who flagged for offside. While replays showed the second decision to be correct, Colombia will feel hard done by with the first one as Gutierrez appeared to be in line with the defender.
Colombia slowly began to dominate possession with Torres and Juan Guillermo Cadrado carrying the major threat going forward. Indeed it was the latter that created a golden chance for Falcao on 14 minutes.
Cadrado made light work of the static Bolivian defense before sliding a pass to Falcao on the edge of the six-yard box. However, the Colombian star uncharacteristically squandered the chance, failing to even connect with the ball.
Los Cafeteros took the lead on the 20 minute mark and it was no surprise that Cadrado was the creator.
The Fiorentina winger latched onto a through ball before composing himself to find Torres who had the simple task of passing the ball into the empty net from six yards. The irony was replays suggested Cadrado was in an offside position when he received the ball.
Just before the break James Rodriquez, who had been scarcely involved during the first half, found space just inside the area only to scuff his shot resulting in an easy save for Carlos Arias.
The Bolivian goalkeeper was again called into action a minute later, doing well to stand his ground to deny Falcao a clean shot on goal.
Falcao endured a frustrating first 45 minutes, twice being denied penalty claims when he appeared to be fouled in the area and continually receiving some rough challenges from the Bolivian defenders.
The second half began in the same vein as the first with the hosts on the front foot, and once again Arias came to Bolivia’s rescue with a fine one-handed save from Gutierrez’s shot.
The rest bite lasted less than a minute, however, as Valdes stabbed home from three yards out following a Rodriguez free kick to double the hosts’ advantage.
Gutierrez then got in on the action just after the hour mark as he latched onto a trademark Torres through ball to slide the ball past Arias from 12 yards.
It would have been a sweet moment for the midfielder who spent last season playing for Atletico Junior.
Falcao then notched his 16th international goal with a typically cool finish from close range before substitute Armero scored in injury time with an acrobatic volley over the advancing goalkeeper from the edge of the area.