After the sorry performance in their opening match against Venezuela, I was expecting more of the same from Colombia and their biggest stars. Happily, I was proven quite wrong (even though that meant that both Willian and Filipe Luis walked off on the losing end).
In the first match, while Juan Cuadrado was pretty decent, Falcao was isolated and mostly useless, James Rodriguez was all over the place and not in a good way, and the rest were incapable of getting the edge in midfield over unfancied neighbors Venezuela. Today, it was basically the opposite. Except for Cuadrado, who was probably even better, despite repeatedly getting kicked by club teammate Filipe Luis who did not have one of his better games. (Willian was also subdued, though mostly thanks to getting ignored by his teammates; his day lasted a little over an hour.)
It was Cuadrado's free kick that led to Colombia's only goal, a perfectly flighted ball to the far post (not for the first time, either) that was not dealt with, leaving plenty of room for Colombia to pounce first on the loose ball. The Chelsea winger who's had such a tough time to get going in the Premier League was full of attacking intent all day, driving at goal, creating chances, and even tracking back regularly to help keep Neymar shackled (as much as Neymar can be shackled).
Falcao meanwhile managed to not embarrass himself outside of his first shot, which he got closer to the corner flag than the Brazilian goal. The soon-to-be Chelsea man worked hard to be involved in most of Colombia's attacks, dropping deep, holding up the ball, and linking up well. His decisions may not have always been ideal, and it would be a stretch to say that he was at all great, but it was at least better than in the first game of the tournament. His day lasted as long as Willian's, as Pekerman looked to hang on to his 1-0 lead.
Brazil turned up the pressure as time started running out, but Colombia managed to see out the 1-0 win (James came close to doubling the score, even) and the important three points to stay alive in Group C. Next up for them will be Peru, while Brazil will take on Venezuela on Sunday ... and they will have to do so without Neymar, who received a red card after the final whistle for an attempted headbutt. Naughty, naughty.
In further international action earlier, Andreas Christensen played the full 90 minutes as Denmark came from behind to beat hosts Czech Republic in the opening match of the Euro U21 Championships.