Colombia progressed to face South American rivals Uruguay at the Maracana in the last 16 of the FIFA World Cup after a superb four one triumph over Japan in Cuiaba.
Juan Cuadrado opened the scoring before Shinji Okazaki equalised for Japan. After the break, Jackson Martinez took advantage of the influence of James Rodriguez with a double before Rodriguez grabbed an inconceivably classy goal right on full time.
After an opening 17 minutes of which Japan had been the better side, it was Colombia who took the lead. Shinji Kagawa had lost the ball to Carlos Valdes in the Colombia area and the men in Yellow broke quickly.
The ball found its way through to new Borussia Dortmund striker Adrian Ramos, he entered the penalty area before being chopped down by Yasuyuki Konno and the Portuguese referee pointed, without hesitation to the spot.
After a little discussion with Jackson Martinez over who would indeed take the spot kick, it was Cuadrado who stepped up. The Fiorentina man made no mistake, smashing the penalty past a hapless Eiji Kawashima to put the group leaders in front.
Barely eight minutes later, Kagawa went agonisingly close to a Japanese equaliser. An uncharacteristic long ball was flicked on by Yoshito Okubo to the Manchester United schemer and he cut inside Valdes. After doing so he dragged a low drive towards the bottom corner only for David Ospina to get down superbly to tip the ball around the post and deny Kagawa.
On the stroke of the half time whistle, Japan nabbed an equaliser. Okazaki has been banished to the wing for much of the tournament but this time around he found himself in the area. Keisuke Honda picked up the ball on the right before swinging in a stunning cross to FSV Mainz striker Okazaki and he headed home acrobatically past Ospina to bring Japan back into the qualification debate.
Ten minutes into the second half, Colombia reclaimed their advantage. Half time sub James Rodriguez played a defence destroying pass after a little shimmy at the edge of the box to find Martinez. The big striker lined up to shoot, driving the ball low past Kawashima for his 24th competitive goal between club and country this season.
Any hope Japan had of the knockout stages were put to bed with eight minutes remaining. Alexander Mejia started the move with a lovely ball forward to Rodriguez. The Monaco man then took a touch before a scintillating through ball from the 22 year old found former club team mate Martinez. He again made no mistake with the finish, smashing a low drive past the despairing Kawashima.
Then, just to prove that romance is not dead in football, five minutes from time, Jose Pekerman ensured the breaking of Roger Milla’s record. At 43 years old and 3 days, Faryd Mondragon broke the Cameroonian legends record as the oldest player ever at a world cup.
As if just to rubber stamp their place in the last 16, Rodriguez produced a moment of magic befitting his rapidly rising star. After being played in by Ramos, the Monaco man bamboozled Maya Yoshida with his hips before lofting the ball over the keeper to complete the rout.
Japan: Eiji Kawashima; Atsuto Uchida, Maya Yoshida, Yasuyuki Konno, Yuto Nagatomo; Toshihiro Aoyama (Hotaru Yamaguchi 62), Makoto Hasebe; Shinji Okazaki (Yoichiro Kakitani 69), Keisuke Honda, Shinji Kagawa (Hiroshi Kiyotake 85); Yoshito Okubo.
Booked: Konno (16).
Subs not used: Shusaku Nishikawa (GK), Shuichi Gonda (GK), Gotoku Sakai, Masato Morishige, Masahiko Inoha, Hiroki Sakai, Yasuhito Endo, Yuya Osako, Manabu Saito.
Colombia: David Ospina (Faryd Mondragón 85); Santiago Arias, Carlos Valdés, Eder Álvarez Balanta, Pablo Armero; Alexander Mejia, Fredy Guarín; Juan Cuadrado (Carlos Carbonero 46), Juan Fernando Quintero (James Rodriguez 46); Jackson Martinez, Adrian Ramos
Booked: Guarin (63)
Subs not used: Camilo Vargas (GK), Cristian Zapata, Mario Yepes, Juan Zúñiga, Carlos Sánchez, Abel Aguilar, Teófilo Gutiérrez, Víctor Ibarbo, Carlos Bacca.
Referee: Pedro Proenca (Portugal)
Extratime.com Man of the Match: James Rodriguez (Colombia)