32-year-old James Rodriguez leads Colombia to Copa America victory

32-year-old James Rodriguez leads Colombia to Copa America victory



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James Rodriguez put in a superb performance to help Colombia open their Copa America campaign with a 2-1 win over Paraguay in Houston on Monday. Rodriguez, whose club career has languished in the decade since he rose to fame with a stunning display at the 2014 World Cup, scored both of his side's goals in the Group D win at NRG Stadium. The 32-year-old midfielder, who has played just a few minutes for Brazilian club Sao Paulo in the two months before the Copa America, scored Colombia's first goal in the 32nd minute.

After creating space on the left, Rodriguez lofted a precise cross towards the far post and passed the ball to Daniel Muñoz, who fired a powerful low header past Paraguay goalkeeper Rodrigo Morinigo to make it 1-0.

Ten minutes later Colombia doubled their lead, again with Rodriguez's trusty left boot.

This time the goal came from the opposite direction, when Rodriguez scored a superb free-kick which was headed into the net by Crystal Palace midfielder Jefferson Lerma.

This made it 2-0 at half-time and Colombia took a strong step towards extending their unbeaten run to 24 matches.

Colombia also created the better chances in the second half, but Brighton & Hove Albion's Julio Enciso rescued Paraguay from a difficult position with a goal in the 69th minute.

Ramon Sosa crossed from the left and Enciso punished loose marking in the Colombia area to flick an angled first volley into the bottom corner past Camilo Vargas.

However, after Paraguay's goal Colombia took control of the game and looked the more dangerous team.

The Colombians thought they had a penalty in the 84th minute when Rodriguez whipped in another cross into the box, but defender Yerry Mina was brought down by Gustavo Velazquez.

Argentine referee Dario Herrera pointed to the spot, but later overturned the decision after a VAR review.

Colombia plays Costa Rica on Friday in its second group match of the tournament, and concludes its first round campaign against Brazil on July 2.

Brazil will begin their Copa America campaign against the Costa Ricans on Monday in Inglewood, California.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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