Colombia set one foot in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil Friday with a 1-0 victory over Ecuador that secured the “cafeteros” a place in the play-offs against Asia.
While on its undisputed best roll since its last performance at the World Cup in 1998, the Colombians failed to leave much of an impression.
Nevertheless Ecuador, which is also performing well in the qualifiers, was forced to play with ten instead of eleven after the 28th minute when defender Gabriel Achilier tackled Colombia forward Teofilo Gutierrez and was sent off the field.
Until then, Ecuador had been able to keep Colombian striker Radamel Falcao‘s danger to a minimum. But it took the AS Monaco striker only two minutes after Ecuador’s defense was reshuffled to take a highly dangerous shot on goal. The ball was stopped by goalie Maximo Banguera, but bounced and was subsequently shot in by fellow-striker James Rodriguez.
Colombia’s neighbor to the south almost ruined a Colombian victory in 60th minute, half an hour before the end of the match.
Defender Carlos Sanchez committed a foul over Ecuadorean striker Enner Valencia who was awarded a penalty kick. Walkter Ayovi lost the one-on-one to Colombian goalkeeper David Ospina though.
Colombia’s game slowed down after the near-equalizer and the cafeteros weren’t able to make much of a fist against their southern neighbors and the match was finished without major chances.
Following securing 26 points and maintaining a five-point lead over Ecuador in the qualifier standings, Colombia is now secured of a place in the play-offs. They may be qualified directly if they are secured of a fourth place in the South American standings.