Rodriguez rises high, Gekas sighs: how Stats Zone saw Colombia 3-0 Greece
Group favourites Colombia kicked off Group C with a relatively comfortable victory over Greece in Belo Horizonte. Goals from West Ham man Pablo Armero and Teo Gutierrez, standing in for the crocked Radamel Falcao, were enough to earn the South Americans three points.
Colombia were rewarded for a bright start with Armero's goal inside five minutes, but although the Greeks enjoyed the majority of possession thereafter, they struggled to create meaningful opportunities and found themselves two down when Gutierrez converted Abel Aguilar's flick-on from a corner.
It could have been different for Greece and striker Theofanis Gekas, however, for whom it wasn't a productive afternoon. The 34-year-old Larissa hitman waited 63 minutes for a chance to test Colombia keeper David Ospina, but when he got one made an absolute hash of it. The former Portsmouth 'star' managed to hit the bar with a diving header from just six yards out.
It certainly looked easier to hit the target, although having only received the ball twice in the box all game, perhaps he could be forgiven for being a little rusty. To compound his frustration, he was substituted seconds later. Played, Theo…
Gekas's agony was in part caused by veteran Colombia centre-back Mario Yepes, who was solid as a rock at the back for the South Americans. The hugely experienced former River Plate, PSG and AC Milan defender made 3 blocks, 3 interceptions, 3 tackles and 8 clearances, as the tournament 'dark horses' kept the 2004 European champions at bay.
Colombia's James Rodriguez might have endured a similar time at the sharp end until his late goal – he'd fired over a fine chance of his own beforehand – but it's clear that the Monaco man makes this side tick elsewhere. He was often the man to start attacks from deep, making a joint-game-high 8 ball recoveries, while no player completed more passes in the attacking third (23/27). In Falcao's absence it's largely up to him to make life easier for Gutierrez, Jack Martinez & Co. up front. If he can score more goals too, even better.
Going behind really didn't help Greece, who aren't used to taking the game to their opponents. They're perhaps best embodied by their 34-year-old veteran Konstantinos Katsouranis at the heart of midfield, who performed well defensively here and finished as the game's highest passer with 58/59 completed. You won't find him venturing into the attacking third, but that's not really his job; instead, he completed 5/6 tackles, made a game-high 5 interceptions, 4 clearances and didn't concede a foul. Not that it helped too much, mind.
Facts and figures
- Colombia’s 3-0 win was their best result in any of their 14 World Cup matches.
- Greece have conceded a goal within the first 7 minutes in each of their 3 opening games at World Cups.
- Pablo Armero, scorer of Colombia’s opening goal, only mustered 1 shot (off target) in his 5 Premier League games for West Ham in 2013/14.
- Konstantinos Katsouranis (70) attempted the fourth most passes by a Greece player ever in a World Cup match.
- Konstantinos Katsouranis (5) made the joint-most interceptions in a match in this World Cup (also Luiz Gustavo for Brazil against Croatia).
- Greece lost for the 6th time in 7 World Cup matches. They failed to score in any of these defeats.
- Greece have conceded in all 7 of their World Cup matches.
- Juan Cuadrado became the first Colombian player to provide 2 assists in a World Cup match since 1962.
- Greece’s 2 shots on target were the joint-fewest they have recorded in a World Cup match (also 2 against South Korea in 2010).