Colombia defeated Bolivia 2-0 on Sunday to become the first team to advance to the quarterfinals of the Copa America.
Colombia’s easy victory also guarantee that Peru, Chile and Venezuela, which have 4 points after two matches, also advance to the knockout stage. Tournament favorites Argentina and Brazil have only two points in two matches and will advance if they win their final group matches.
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Argentina faces Costa Rica on Monday and Brazil plays Ecuador on Wednesday.
Porto star Radamel Falcao scored in the 15th and 29th minutes for Colombia to secure top spot in Group A with 7 points. Bolivia finished with only 1 point and was eliminated.
”It doesn’t matter who scores the goals,” Falcao said. ”What we want is to build a team; build an identity and get stronger.”
Colombia will face the best third-place team in the quarterfinals. The top two teams in each group reach the quarterfinals, joined by the best two third-place teams.
Falcao opened the scoring when he took a pass between two Bolivia defenders and broke in alone before slotting the ball behind Bolivia keeper Carlos Arias.
Falcao made it 2-0 by converting a penalty after Pablo Armero was taken down in the area. Falcao stutter-stepped and then beat Arias, who dived left with the shot going into the right corner.
”When it comes down to one-on-one in a match, Falcao shows what he’s made of,” Colombia coach Hernan Dario Gomez said.
In a low-scoring tournament, Falcao’s two goals made him the scoring leader. No team has scored more than two goals in any match.
Colombia and Chile have been the best teams early in the tournament. Colombia has been effective using its speed and precision passing game, which it showed in the second half. It’s also yet to give up a goal in three matches.
Falcao almost got his third in the 61st, leaping high and just failing to connect with a long cross. He had another chance two minutes later, but shot just inches wide of the far post. He also headed over the crossbar in the 84th.
Bolivia probably had its best chance of the match in the 55th but Jhasmani Campos shot the ball over the crossbar from 12 meters (yards).
Colombia president Juan Manuel Santos sent the team a good-luck message just before the game.
”Get up for the match. We are going to win,” Santos said on his Twitter feed.
Colombia: Luis Martinez, Camilo Zuniga, Luis Perea, Mario Yepes, Pablo Armero, Carlos Sanchez, Dayro Moreno (Hugo Rodallega, 45), Abel Aguilar, Freddy Guarin (Juan Cuadrado, 50), Adrian Ramos (Elkin Soto, 77), Radamel Falcao.
Bolivia: Carlos Alvarez, Lorgio Alvarez, Ronald Raldes, Santos Amador, Christian Vargas, Ronald Garcia, Jaime Robles, Jhasmani Campos, Edivaldo Rojas (Joselito Vaca, 45), Juan Carlos Arce (Ricardo Pedriel, 70), Marcelo Moreno (Alcides Pena, 60).