Colombia Beat Ecuador, Close In On First Finals Since 1998

by
Reuters
Colombia moved within grasp of their first World Cup finals appearance in 16 years with a 1-0 home win over Ecuador in a downpour in Barranquilla on Friday.

Colombia's team members celebrate after defeating Ecuador during their 2014 World Cup qualifying soccer match in Barranquilla

Colombia moved within grasp of their first World Cup finals appearance in 16 years with a 1-0 home win over Ecuador in a downpour in Barranquilla on Friday.

The Colombians celebrated as though they had secured their ticket to next year's tournament in Brazil, but have ensured only that, at worst, they will go into a playoff against an Asian qualifier in November.

They joined Argentina at the top of the South American group from which the leading four teams will go through to the finals at the end of the qualifying campaign next month with the fifth-placed team reaching the playoff for one more berth.

Midfielder James Rodriguez scored the only goal after half an hour when Ecuador were already down to 10 men after defender Gabriel Achilier was sent off for bringing down goal-bound striker Teofilo Gutierrez in the 28th minute.

Striker Radamel Falcao, passed fit at the last minute, had a shot from outside the box which goalkeeper Maximo Banguera could only parry away, allowing Rodriguez to swoop in from the left and steer a left-footed shot in off the base of the far post.