Pasadena (California), June 8 (IANS) Colombia were inspired by captain James Rodriguez and two critical saves from goalkeeper David Ospina to hold off Paraguay 2-1 and become the first team to book passage into the Copa America Centenario football quarter-finals.
Rodriguez was Colombia’s catalyst, his corner to Carlos Bacca in the 12th minute resulting in Colombia’s first goal at the Rose Bowl stadium here on Tuesday.
Rodriguez then scored his team’s second goal in the 30th minute.
Rodriguez was an injury doubt for the match with a shoulder injury, but he was in coach Jose Pekerman’s starting line-up.
Paraguay had plenty of chances throughout the night, including Dario Lezcano’s free kick that was tipped over the bar by Ospina just before the halftime whistle.
Paraguay finally broke through with Victor Ayala’s long-distance strike in the 71st minute, but could not equalise.
Ospina, who plays for Arsenal in England, leaped off his line to bat away a header in the 61st minute.
Paraguay played the last 10 minutes of the match with 10 men when midfielder Oscar Romero was sent off after seeing his second yellow card.
Colombia, with six points to lead Group A, is guaranteed a place in the quarter-finals regardless of the outcome of their next match, against Costa Rica on Friday in Houston.
Paraguay face a must-win situation against the United States to have a chance to advance.