CHESTER, PA - OCTOBER 12: Falcao Garcia #9 of Colombia gets tripped up while taking a shot on goal in front of Clarence Goodson #21 of the United States at PPL Park on October 12, 2010 in Chester, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)

Copa America 2011, Colombia Vs. Costa Rica: Colombia Defeats 10-Man Ticos, 1-0

Argentina's draw against Bolivia has created an opportunity for Colombia to grab three points against a young, inexperienced Costa Rica team and move to the top of their group.

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Copa America 2011, Colombia Vs. Costa Rica: Colombia Gets Past 10-Man Ticos, 1-0

They may have three points and sit atop Group A, but it's hard to imagine that Colombia are happy with their team right now. Facing a young and inexperienced Costa Rica team in their Copa America opened, Colombia was supposed to cruise. Instead they opened flat, were gifted a red card that should have jump started them and despite getting a goal, never looked particularly dangerous. A 1-0 win and three points, sure, but hardly the type of performance that has Colombians excited about their prospects for the rest of the tournament.

The opened 28 minutes of the match in Jujuy were a complete bore. With Bolivia shocking Argentina in a 1-1 draw and a spot atop Group A on the line it was expected that both teams would come out with fire, but Colombia looked as if they were being bothered by having to show up and play. Costa Rica, playing with an under-22 squad, did their best to stay organized and defend, but they never really had a chance to threaten Colombia. They just lacked the quality and then in 28th minute one of their overage players who should have brought calm to the team looked like the child.

Randall Brenes went in late on a challenge, but it wasn't just late. Brenes went in with his studs knee-high. The Colombian player who suffered the foul was unhurt, but the referee was completely in the right to show Brenes a red card for the reckless challenge. What was already a tough challenge for the youthful Ticos got that much tougher.

Colombia brought on Hugo Rodallega not long after, going to a four forward formation and it paid off with a 35 minute goal. Fredy Guarin played a beautiful 30-yard pass right through the heart of the Costa Rica defense. It found a streaking Adrian Ramos, who took a touch to round the keeper before finishing to put Colombia on top.

The second half should have brought a Colombian onslaught, but it was never there. They had a couple chances and dominated possession, but they struggled to challenge the Costa Rica goal. Once they hit the post and they got free for a couple shots from distance, but it wasn't the type of pressure you would expect from a team that should be superior at 11v11, let alone up a man.

Nonetheless, Colombia was able to see out the rest of the match and grab three points to move atop Group A. Costa Rica is bottom of the group on zero points, while Argentina and Bolivia are in the middle with a point apiece. Colombia will play their second match of the tournament on June 6 in Santa Fe against the hosts, Argentina, while the Ticos will next play on July 7 against Bolivia in Jujuy.

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Copa America 2011, Colombia Vs. Costa Rica: 10-Man Ticos Down 1-0 At Half

The second match of Copa America was supposed to be all Colombia, but for the first 28 minutes it wasn't. In fact, the first 28 minutes were a complete bore with neither the Colombians nor Costa Rica able to generate anything that resembled a potent attack. Colombia dominated possession, but it was mainly passes along the backline or to midfielders dropping deep, never really taking advantage of their array for attacking talent. The Randall Brenes was shown a red card, Colombia went up a man and Adrian Ramos scored to put Colombia ahead 1-0 just before halftime.

While Costa Rica can wonder how they're supposed to beat the favored Colombians at full strength, let alone down a man, they cannot complain that Brenes was shown red. His tackle didn't cause injury, but it was a late and reckless knee-high challenge that undoubtedly deserved red.

Down a man, the Ticos couldn't continue to stymie the Colombia attack by dropping men behind the ball and closing down quickly inside of 35 yards. Colombia brought on Hugo Rodallega to add another forward to the mix and they began to generate chances. That finally paid off in the 34th minute when Fredy Guarin played a beautiful ball to spring Ramos. The 30-yard ball was perfect, getting through four Costa Rica defenders and leaving Ramos in alone on goal. He took a touch to get around the keeper then finished into the empty net to put Colombia ahead, 1-0.

Now that Colombia have finally broken the seal, it is expected that they pour it on in the second half. They are the superior team, they're up a man and now they've finally broken through. That can only be a good thing for the neutrals, who were probably wondering why they tuned in for the beginning of the match that was so dull, but now they should be treated to some delightful Colombian attacking football.

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Copa America 2011, Colombia Vs. Costa Rica: Los Cafeteros Ahead On Adrian Ramos Goal

There hasn't been a whole lot of action in the first half of the 2011 Copa America match between Colombia and Costa Rica, but Fredy Guarin and Adrian Ramos made sure that we wouldn't go into halftime scoreless. It took 34 minutes for the first moment of true quality in the match, but Colombia have delivered it, creating a goal that will hopefully force Costa Rica to attack and consequently, cause the game to open up.

Guarin delivered what was quite possibly the assist of his life on the goal, threading a 30 yard through ball to Ramos, on the ground and through what appeared to be about four Costa Rican defenders. Ramos seemed almost surprised that the ball reached him, but knew what to do with it when he got over his split second of shock. He took a great touch to his left, going around Ticos goalkeeper Leonel Moreira and slotting the ball into the back of the net. Colombia are up 1-0, and it would be surprising to see them lose their lead.

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Copa America 2011, Colombia Vs. Costa Rica: Hugo Rodallega Subbed On

It didn't take long for Colombia manager Hernan Gomez to react to going up a man. Randall Brenes was sent off in the 28th minute, leaving Costa Rica with just 10 men and just five minutes later Gomez has brought on Hugo Rodallega to give the Colombia attack some reinforcements. The Wigan striker is coming off of another solid season in England and will try to give Colombia what they need to break the 0-0 deadlock.

Rodallega has come on for Abel Aguilar, leaving Colombia a little thin in the midfield, but that shouldn't matter much. With the way that the Colombia backline pushes forward and initiates the attack they won't look empty in the center as they go forward.. Colombia entered as the favorites and now that they are up a man they can take chances with more attacking players without having to worry about being exploited on the counter-attack by Costa Rica.

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Copa America 2011, Colombia Vs. Costa Rica: Red Card For Randall Brenes

The uphill battle that Costa Rica was already facing just got steeper after Randal Brenes was shown a red card in the 28th minute for a terrible tackle. The Costa Rican came flying in late with a knee high tackle and while the Colombian player who suffered the foul was not injured, the referee didn't have much of a choice but to send Brenes off for the reckless challenge. 

Playing without their best team and instead one of mostly young players, Costa Rica were already underdogs. The Ticos have done well to keep Colombia from creating too many chances in the opening 28 minutes of the match, but they were still chasing the Colombians around some. Now that they have to play down a man any chance they had of picking up a point is nearly extinguished.

As soon as the red card was shown, Colombia got Hugo Rodallega up off the bench and warming up. Now that they are up a man it appears as if they will bring on the striker to give the team a more attacking look. Whether Colombia waits until halftime to make a move or bring on Rodallega immediately is unclear, but it looks like they'll be looking to pressure with a slew of attacking players before long.

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Copa America 2011, Colombia Vs. Costa Rica: Lineups

It's the high powered Colombia attack versus the young and inexperienced Costa Rica side. With Radamel Falcao leading the line for Colombia, they are plenty dangerous and that's an issue for Costa Rica. Because the Ticos are not in CONMEBOL and are playing in Copa America as an invitee, they were obligated to play their best team in last month's Gold Cup, the championship for their confederation, CONCACAF. They couldn't also play their best team in Copa America so they sent a young team that has nine players yet to be capped at the international level.

Considering Costa Rica's youth, it would be a shocker if they managed a point. Colombia shouldn't have a problem leaving Jujuy with three points and sitting atop Group A. That would be a gigantic advantage for the team tht is looking to make its first major impact in an international tournament since finishing third at Copa America 2004.

Colombia (4-3-3): Martinez, Yepes, Perea, Armero, Zuniga, Aguilar, Bolivar, Guarin, Falcao, Ramos, Moreno

Costa Rica (4-4-2): Moreira, Acosta, Duarte, Salvatierra, Calvo, Guzman, Leal, Madrigal, Mora, Brenes, Campbell

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Copa America 2011, Colombia Vs. Costa Rica: Colombia Eying Spot Atop Group A

Last night's surprising 1-1 draw between Argentina and Bolivia has thrown Group A at Copa America into flux. No longer is Argentina the lock to win the group with Colombia and Costa Rica battling it out for second place. All four spots in the group are up for grabs and the two supposed middle teams, Colombia and Costa Rica, can now aim higher. 

That sets the stage for today's match, the only match of the day, between the Ticos and Los Cafeteros. The winner of the match will move top of the group, something that is crucial because the winner of Group A will not have to face another group winner in the knockout stages until the final.

For Colombia, this is a chance to reclaim their former glory. They were the darlings of 1994 World Cup qualifying and a darkhorse at the 1994 finals, but were dumped out in the group stage. The country kept a good team though, reaching their high point in 2001 when they won Copa America on home soil. Ever since, they have struggled to keep up with the best in CONMEBOL. This tournament may change that. Radamel Falcao has emerged as one of the top strikers on the continent and he's supported by Hugo Rodallega and Jackson Martinez.

It will be a challenge for Costa Rica to handle the attacking talent of Colombia, especially with the youth they have in their team. Their top players from the Gold Cup have gone back to their clubs and a young, inexperienced team is set for Copa America. Nine players without a cap are on the roster, making any sort of success in the tournament a very long shot.

If Costa Rica can get a result today in Jujuy they will have done their job. Realistically, asking that of them is too much and the attacking prowess of the Colombians will probably do them in. Colombia won't complain about not getting to play the Ticos top squad either, taking their three points and spot atop the group with a smile.

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