Colombia trounces Costa Rica to grab first place in Copa Group D

Luis Diaz of Colombia
Luis Diaz of Colombia celebrates after scoring the team's first goal via penalty with teammate Johan Mojica during the CONMEBOL Copa America 2024 Group D match between Colombia and Costa Rica at State Farm Stadium on June 28, 2024 in Glendale, Arizona. 

Luis Diaz scored from the spot for his first goal of the 2024 Copa America, James Rodriguez contributed his third assist and Colombia outclassed Costa Rica 3-0 on Friday in Glendale, Ariz., to take command of Group D. 

Davinson Sanchez and Jhon Cordoba also scored for Los Cafeteros (2-0-0, 6 points), who will finish the evening in first in the group regardless of Friday’s later result between Brazil and Paraguay.

It was Colombia’s 10th consecutive victory and 25th match without defeat as they pursue their first Copa America title since 2001. Manager Nestor Lorenzo’s side can seal a first-place group finish -- and avoid a likely quarterfinal against Uruguay -- if Brazil and Paraguay draw. Otherwise, a draw in their group finale against Brazil on Tuesday would do it. 

Costa Rica (0-1-1, 1 point) remain alive, but will need a win in their finale against Paraguay and some help.

After his four saves helped Los Ticos earn a historic 0-0 draw against Brazil, Costa Rica goalkeeper Patrick Sequeira’s major judgment error late in the first half handed Colombia a penalty and a route to a comfortable win.

Francisco Calvo appeared to have a situation on Costa Rica’s defensive left flank covered after a long ball aimed for Cordoba. But Sequeira charged off his line and clattered into Cordoba, leaving referee Gustavo Tejera little choice but to point to the spot.

Diaz stepped up and smashed his penalty into the top right corner to give Colombia a 31st-minute lead.

Sanchez twice came close to adding to that advantage before halftime before he outmuscled defender Juan Pablo Vargas to head Jhon Arias’ inswinging corner past Sequeira from close range in the 59th minute. He then grabbed and held up the jersey of teammate Jhon Lucumi, who had departed Colombia’s opener with an injury and did not dress on Friday.

Cordoba finished the scoring in the 62nd minute, timing his run to stay onside and sprint onto Rodriguez’s ball over the top before driving his finish from the right side of the area past Sequeira.

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