Soccer / Sports

Colombia advances, 2-0, over Suarez-less Uruguay

Don't be fooled by his given name. It reads "James" but is pronounced "HAH-mez."

Also, don't be fooled by his age (22) and dearth of World Cup experience (none before this one).

The baby-faced James Rodriguez brought some serious star power to a match that was missing some in the absence of suspended Uruguayan Luis Suarez. Rodriguez, a midfielder who has mixed splendid playmaking with consistent scoring, tallied twice as Colombia graduated to the quarterfinals with a 2-0 win.

Next up: star-laden host Brazil on Friday.

When Abel Aguilar headed the ball forward to him several yards outside the box during the 28th minute, Rodriguez chested it to the ground and booted a howitzer into the net. Not since 1978 has a player introduced himself to the Cup world by scoring in his first four matches.

As individually stunning as Colombia's first goal was, the second was a byproduct of team brilliance. A chain of passes in the 50th minute sent the ball zigzagging from one side to the other and back, then finally to the foot of Rodriguez in the middle of the box. This one was easy for the Cup's breakout player wearing the No. 10 jersey long associated with his nation's wild-haired soccer legend Carlos Valderrama.

With five goals in Brazil, Rodriguez leads a luminous list of top scorers carrying more recognizable names.

Uruguay suffered without Suarez, its disgraced striker. Coach Oscar Tabarez, who approved the hanging of his exiled standout's jersey in the dressing room, spent all three substitutions early in the second half in search of more offense, but only a few attempts by Cristian Rodriguez caused any consternation.

Suarez was sent home for biting an opponent.

All but denying the video-supported findings against him, Suarez explained that he lost his balance, fell onto Giorgio Chiellini, bruised his cheek and hurt his teeth on the Italian.

(c)2014 Los Angeles Times

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