Colombia’s dream of World Cup qualification is gathering real pace after two majestic Radamel Falcao strikes handed them a third victory on the bounce against Paraguay on Friday.
The Ateltcio Madrid star showed just why he is considered one of the deadliest strikers in the world with two equally brilliant second-half strikes .
Falcao’s first came just after the break when seemingly with nothing else on he turned his marker superbly before hitting an instinctive curling shot into the top corner and sending the 50,000 capacity Barranquilla crowd into delirium.
Colombia then had a goal disallowed and a shot hit the post before Falcao netted his second with a sublime chip over the goalkeeper after swiveling past two Paraguay defenders.
The goals were just deserts for a vastly improved second-half performance from the hosts, who moved top of the CONMEBOL table, albeit until Argentina play Uruguay later in the evening.
Falcao is in the form of his life and netted his third and fourth goals in as three games for Los Cafetaros who would be slightly relieved for the three points after a poor first-half showing.
Colombia last qualified for a World Cup in 1998 but their wait is surely destined to end in two year’s time as they continue to show the quality needed to qualify and if Falcao continues to show this kind of form it is hard to see them not ending their eight-year wait.
The hosts started off tentatively as if still coming to terms with the huge expectation placed on them before kick off.
Passing in midfield was sluggish and they struggled to get their dangerous front players on the ball, indeed it took until the 13th minute for them to muster an attempt on goal and this was a tame header from Falcao.
At the other end Paraguay looked confident in possession and had a decent effort on goal on 17 minutes when Marcelo Estigarribia shot a few yards wide from just outside the box.
Colombia finally clicked into gear as the interval approached and enjoyed a sustained period of pressure on the Paraguay goal. But time an again when they got to the byline the cross was headed away by a player in red.
Teofilo Gutierrez then found space at the edge of the box and tried a curling shot into the top corner which always had too much height and flew over without troubling.
Victor Ayala had the best chance of the half just after as his shot narrowly missed the post with Colombia goalkeeper David Ospina nowhere to be seen.
The hosts came out after the break with much more vigor and opened the scoring after 50 minutes when Falcao struck.
After receiving the ball just inside the area and seemingly with no chance of getting a shot on goal, the in-form front man turned his marker before curling the ball into the top corner.
It could and should have been two 10 minutes later when Gutierrez found space in the area but his goal-bound effort was blocked by his own player.
With Paraguay having to push forward space was being opened up in their defence and the hosts could have made it 2-0 when Juan G. Cuadrado shot wide from close range.
Falcao then almost grabbed his second with 10 minutes left when he forced Paraguay goalkeeper Diego Barreto into a world-class one-hand save.
Guitierrez thought he had scored five minutes from time but his strike was ruled out for offside even though the striker had reeled away in a premature celebration.
Zuniga then hit the post before Falcao capped a fine victory with a sublime chip from six yards out.