Red Hot Radamel Falcao Puts Bolivian Defence to the Sword

South American correspondent Tom Webber brings you all the action from the Copa America.

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Bolivia went in to this game knowing that they would need a win to have any shot of qualification for the quarter finals. After an abysmal display against Costa Rica in the last round of games they really needed to improve as they faced a much tougher opponent. The game combined some great attacking Colombian play, with Radamel Falcao at the centre of it, whilst poor defending once again riddled the Bolivian back line. The Colombians troubled the opposition all night from a variety of angles that helped lead to their win. Colombia have continued to improve and look like they could be a real handful for any team that they come across.

It only took Colombia 15 minutes to get ahead and it was the record breaking Europa League goalscorer who found the net. Falcao has had a terrific season with Porto and looks to be continuing that form for his national side. Falcao was standing on the last man, as Dayro Moreno had the ball in the middle of the park. The Colombian playmaker impressed for Once Caldas in this year’s Copa Libertadores after an unsuccessful spell in Romania with Steaua Bucharest. Moreno threaded a lovely ball down the middle of the park, between the midfield and defence. Falcao executed his run superbly, bending it back before cutting across the defender, who stepped up too late and played the Porto striker onside. He had got himself in acres of space and carried the ball closer to the goal, whilst Carlos Arias closed the angle in the Bolivian goal. However, Falcao found the smallest of gaps and put the ball back across Arias and the ball nestled in next to the post after a sublime goal.

It was only another 15 minutes later that Colombia won a penalty. A ball was clipped up the left flank towards the full back Pablo Armero, who was surging forward. Another defensive mix-up for Bolivia enabled Armero to come away with the ball. Two Bolivian players went in for the ball and collided with each other, taking themselves out of play. Armero continued to drive towards the box where he was upended by Santos Amador with an extremely poor challenge. Falcao stepped up for the penalty, keeping his eyes on the keeper and putting a small stutter in his run. He placed the ball towards the goalkeepers right and Arias went the wrong way, giving Colombia a 2-0 lead.

Falcao had a few opportunities to get himself a hat-trick and will perhaps be disappointed that he did not. His best opportunity coming when he received the ball in the opposition half and used the run of his teammate as a decoy to earn himself some space to get the shot away. When he did, it was from 20 yards out and just skidded wide of the post. He did not stop working though. He showed great drive and determination to get into the box throughout the game, linking up with the midfield before turning and moving forward. This is the kind of player that Brazil could use in their attack as it is what they are missing. Falcao is a true number 9 in every sense. Performances such as this will no doubt remind Andre Villas-Boas of his quality as he looks to follow his old manager to London. He certainly looks like he has the quality to play at the highest level of the game.

Rodallega came on and performed well, showing a good touch and patience. He has used what little playing time he has had so far to perform at his greatest ability. He helped participate in a number of smooth, intricate attacks for the Colombians in the second half and should be very pleased with his performance. Colombia will be pleased to have not only qualified but to have qualified top of the group. They certainly look like they could give anyone a game and have really impressed so far in the tournament. However, Bolivia have crashed out of the tournament after a promising opener against the hosts in La Plata. Eventually it was their defensive frailties in the last two games that has been their downfall. The result also meant that Chile and Peru have now qualified for the quarter finals due to the fact that if they lose they will be one of the best 3rd placed teams. But it is Colombia who march on, top of their group with a place in the quarter finals.

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