Colombia kicked off their World Cup campaign with a 3-0 victory over Greece in Belo Horizonte. It was a strange game in which Greece saw much of the possession and regularly looked untroubled by the victors, though Fernando Santos' outfit flattered to deceive and were twice made to pay for their eternal attacking impotence.
It took only six minutes for Colombia to break the deadlock, with Juan Cuadrado's low cross from the right dummied by James Rodríguez and promptly dispatched from the edge of the area by fullback Pablo Armero, via the leg of defender Kostas Manolas. Los Cafeteros celebrated with the best dance you'll see at this World Cup, though their joy should've been swiftly cut short. Within a minute of the opener, Greece's Panagiotis Kone found space on the edge of the box, only to slice his effort way over the crossbar.
It was a miss Greece would be made to regret, as they toiled away for the remainder of the half without creating as good a chance. Colombia were quite happy to let them dominate possession, safe in the knowledge that with midfielders Abel Aguilar and Carlos Sánchez sitting comfy in front of the defence, they'd be very difficult to penetrate. Their goalkeeper David Ospina was only called into action right at the end of the first half, with a speculative effort from Kone clawed away from danger.
After taking the lead, though, Colombia didn't look too threatening either. It was probably their ploy to sit back and force Greece onto the front foot in order to create space for themselves on the counter-attack. However, their best chance to do so came inside the final ten minutes of the opening half when Víctor Ibarbo's deep cross found Rodríguez in the box, only for him to volley over Orestis Karnezis' crossbar from close range. With the halftime deficit only a goal, Greece still very much had everything to play for.
It didn't stay that way for long into the second half, though, with Teófilo Gutiérrez prodding home a corner to double Colombia's advantage within 15 minutes of the restart. For the second time in the match, Greece immediately responded with an outstanding chance of their own, though this time Theofanis Gekas headed the ball against the crossbar with an empty net gaping. It certainly wasn't their day.
Greece saw much of the ball from then to the final whistle, though Colombia keeper Ospina never had a save to make. They were hit on the counter-attack one final time in stoppage time, when wunderkind Rodríguez found some space in the box and took full advantage, rolling the ball past Karnezis for 3-0.
Colombia will be satisfied if not overjoyed after a performance that was more functional than fun. Against Greece, you can't really ask for much more.
Colombia: Ospina; Armero (Arias 74'), Zapata, Yepes, Zúñiga; Rodríguez, Aguilar (Mejía 69'), Sánchez, Cuadrado; Ibarbo, Gutiérrez (Martínez 76').
Goals: Armero (5'), Gutiérrez (58'), Rodríguez (90+3)'.
Greece: Karnezis; Holebas, Papastathopoulos, Manolas, Torosidis; Maniatis, Katsouranis, Kone (Karagounis 78'); Samaras, Gekas (Mitroglou 64'), Salpingidis (Fetfatzidis 57').