Japan were dealt an early blow when Juan Cuadrado's penalty put them in a deficit, but Shinji Okazaki equalized at the stroke of halftime to give them hope. Unfortunately for the Samurai Blue, Jackson Martinez's second-half brace and a brilliant goal from James Rodriguez condemned them to an early exit in a hugely disappointing overall performance.
Colombia's rotated squad gave their manager some changes to mull over. Martinez certainly looked a more effective option up front than Victor Ibarbo, but the real star was Rodriguez, who gave a dazzling second-half display to tear apart Japan.
It had been a cagey opening before Yasuyuki Konno hacked down Adrian Ramos in the area, whic led to a huge early setback for Japan. Cuadrado stepped up to take the penalty and rifled it into the bottom corner to give his side the lead.
Japan continued to battle however, and just before halftime, Keisuke Honda's excellent ball found the onrushing Okazaki, who powered a bullet header past David Ospina to put Japan in a potential position to advance, with Greece winning in the simultaneous game.
Yet Colombia had more up their sleeve. Jose Pekerman brought on Rodriguez at halftime, and the Monaco midfielder went on to be a decisive force in the match. After just ten minutes, he split the Japanese defense apart with a magnificent pass for Martinez, and the Porto forward made no mistake with his finish to put Japan in serious trouble.
Japan hurled themselves forward, but could not find a way through thanks to some disappointing attacking play in the box, and it was no surprise to see Colombia bag a killer third goal. The combination was equally unsurprising -- again Rodriguez drove into space, and again he found Martinez. This finish was special, however. Martinez left Maya Yoshida in a heap in the area before curling a magnificent effort into the far corner.
Japan were dead and buried, but there was still time for one last piece of genius from Rodriguez, who broke free and left two defenders and a keeper in a mess with some mesmerising footwork before brilliantly chipping the ball over Eiji Kawashima and into the net to complete the rout. Colombia look like one of the most terrifying teams in the tournament, and they've just proved their strength in depth.
Colombia: Ospina; Armero, Balanta, Valdes, Arias; Quintero (Rodriguez 46'), Guarin, Mejia, Cuadrado (Carbonero 46'); Ramos, Martinez.
Goals: Cuadrado (17' pen), Martinez (55', 82'), Rodriguez (90')
Japan: Kawashima, Nagatomo, Yoshida, Konno, Uchida; Hasebe, Aoyama (Yamaguchi 62'); Kagawa, Okazaki (Kakitani 69'), Honda, Okubo.
Goals: Okazaki (45+1')