ia routed Japan 4-1 on Tuesday

  • CUIABA, Brazil -- James Rodriguez scored a brilliant goal and set up two more for Jackson Martinez as Colombia routed Japan 4-1 on Tuesday to confirm top spot in Group C and eliminate the Asian champions from the World Cup. Trevor Van Riemsdyk Jersey . Already assured of advancing, Colombia guaranteed first place with its third straight win, setting up a second-round match against Uruguay. The Colombians started with a virtual second-string lineup but still went in front when Juan Cuadrado -- one of the few regular starters -- drilled in a 17th-minute penalty. Japan equalized with the last touch of the first half through Shinji Okazakis header but Martinez scored in the 55th and 82nd minutes -- both from superb passes from substitute Rodriguez -- to put the result beyond doubt. Rodriguez capped it off with his stunning solo goal in the 89th, turning his marker inside out before chipping the advancing goalkeeper with a deft finish that bore all the hallmarks of the great Lionel Messi. That made it nine goals for Colombia in the group stage, and the South Americans are proving to be the World Cups big entertainers. The introduction of Rodriguez tilted the game back Colombias way after Japan finished the first half stronger, with Okazakis goal having given Alberto Zaccheronis side a slim chance of progressing. Although Japanese fans will have been keeping one eye on the match being played simultaneously between Ivory Coast and Greece in Fortaleza, their players only had one mission: win three points and see if that would be enough. It didnt open to plan, with Japan going behind to a penalty that was needlessly given away by Konno, who lunged into a challenge on Adrian Ramos. Despite Japans protests, it was a clear foul and Cuadrado had no difficulty converting the spot kick. The goal left Japan susceptible to the counter-attack as they pushed forward in search of two goals. At the other end, there was a lack of cutting edge -- Shinji Kagawa had a weak shot saved and Keisuke Honda wasted three free kicks from good positions -- before Honda crossed for Okazaki to head in at the near post with what was the last touch of the half. Rodriguez -- one of many regulars rested at the start by coach Jose Pekerman -- was introduced for the second half and he made an immediate difference, livening up the crowd and the teams attacking play with his turn of speed and precision passing. Within 10 minutes, he had created Martinezs goal, running onto the ball and playing in his teammate with a cute pass for the striker to take one touch and shoot left-footed low into the corner. The FC Porto striker made it 3-1 with a curling left-foot finish, this time following a reverse pass from Rodriguez. Cheap NHL Jerseys . These days, just about anyone can get a taste of the friendship that has blossomed between All-Star Kevin Durant and Oklahoma City Thunder teammate James Harden, most famous in the past two weeks or so for the elbow to the head he took from the Los Angeles Lakers Metta World Peace. Brett Pesce Jersey . You can watch all the action on TSN2 beginning at 7pm et/4pm pt. Pineda won his second straight start last Wednesday against Chicago, as he held the Cubs to just four hits over six scoreless innings to run his record to 2-0, while lowering his ERA to 1.TAMPA, Fla. -- Sometimes Steven Stamkos does things that his Tampa Bay Lightning teammates cant help but marvel at. "Just about every shift," linemate Tyler Johnson said. That was clear in Game 1 against the Montreal Canadiens when Stamkos went end-to-end before settling the rolling puck on his stick and firing a perfect shot far side past Carey Price. And even though the Lightning lost the game, that highlight and his two-goal night showed why Stamkos is the X-factor that can tip the balance of the series, no matter how well or how poorly the Habs play. "Thats what we expect out of him," winger Alex Killorn said Thursday. "As long as he continues that, I think he gives us a good chance of winning." Even with starting goaltender Ben Bishop and rookie-of-the-year candidate Ondrej Palat out with upper-body injuries, and even with more than a dozen players making their Stanley Cup playoff debut, the Lightning know they can count on Stamkos. And thats after the 24-year-old Markham, Ont., native missed four months with a broken leg. Stamkos returned March 6 and had five goals in his first seven games. But Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper said that the stats were deceiving. "Those first 10-15 games, he wasnt himself," Cooper said Wednesday. "He was just slowly getting himself back. I would say these last five, six games that hes played, hes been an impact player for us." The only other player in the series who has the potential to make as much of an impact is Habs defenceman P.K. Subban, who has known Stamkos since the two played together for the North York Canadiens as eight-year-olds. Subban and Stamkos won a city championship together, then gold in 2008 with Canadas world junior team. Since, their families have remained close friends while theyve built up some healthy animosity as competitors. "I love playing against him," Subban said. "I like making him frustrated, and Im sure hell like to score on me. But the history that we have of playing each other, its been back and forth. When Im on the ice, Im sure he knows Im out there, and I know hes out there." Subban liked getting Stamkos involved in pushing and shoving after the whistle in Game 1 because it meant he was starting to get to him. Beyond that, the Habs defenceman expressed nothing but respect and admiration for his childhood teaammate. Noah Hanifin Jersey. "That guy, as far as Im concerned, hes probably the best goal-scorer in the league," Subban said. "Good players like him they find ways to be invisible on the ice, and they appear when they have to appear. And players like Stamkos, (Sidney) Crosby and (John) Tavares, they have that ability to disappear and then youre looking over your shoulder and next thing you know the pucks between your legs and hes tapping it in backdoor." That was one of Stamkoss goals, when Killorn gave him a perfect pass on a two-on-one past a siding Andrei Markov. But it was his first of Game 1, a wicked shot that followed a breathtaking rush, that had everyone buzzing. More impressive than banking the puck off the boards to evade Brandon Prust or even the shot itself was how Stamkos managed to settle the puck down in a split second. Teammate J.T. Brown knows he could do the same, but only if he had 20 seconds. Subban didnt realize Stamkos found a way to get the puck down before firing the shot by Price. He simply appreciated how Stamkos finished things off with such subtle skill. "I think sometimes as a shooter, they recognize when to release it," Subban said. "Its not about how hard it is, its just about where you put it and how quick you get it off. He got it off pretty quick. I dont think he needed as much power behind it because he was skating so fast. He had so much momentum already." It was the games most memorable play on a night full of them. It shouldnt be shocking that Stamkos brought his best with the spotlight so bright, given how he beams about being back in the playoffs for the first time since 2011. "Its an unbelievable experience," Stamkos said Wednesday. "Its the most fun a lot of guys have had playing hockey. The intensity is at a whole new level." Elite players find a way to reach or exceed that level. With Bishop unlikely to play this series and Palat a game-time decision for Game 2 Friday night, Tampa Bay as a team has plenty to work on. Turnovers are an issue and so is defensive-zone play, but Stamkos is far from a problem. Instead, he represents the Lightnings best chance to do something special at any given moment. "I dont know what he can do more," Johnson said. "Hes fun to play with, fun to watch, and Im glad hes on our team and not playing against him." 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