Santa Clara (United States) | Colombia wrecked the United States’ hopes of a winning start to the Copa America Centenario as goals from James Rodriguez and Cristian Zapata gave the South Americans a comfortable 2-0 victory.
AC Milan’s Zapata and Real Madrid star Rodriguez struck in the first half before a sell-out 67,439 crowd at the Levi’s Stadium in northern California to puncture American hopes of emerging from a difficult Group A.
US coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s side had hoped to score an upset victory to emulate the Americans’ famous defeat of Colombia at the 1994 World Cup in the United States.
But for long periods here Friday Klinsmann’s men were chasing shadows as the skilful 2014 World Cup quarter-finalists delivered a stinging reality check.
Klinsmann sought to put a positive spin on the game, insisting his team had competed as equals.
For our players it’s really important that they can see we can beat them, Klinsmann said.
The end result is 2-0. But the players will take a lot out of this game.
Klinsmann admitted the defeat left his team with little margin for error in their remaining group games against Costa Rica and Paraguay.
Obviously we have even more hunger in our second game now, Klinsmann said.
We have our backs against the wall and we need three points against Costa Rica. But there’s a lot of positives.
A disastrous first half for the host nation saw Colombia take a vice-like grip on the contest.
The Colombians took the lead after only eight minutes, when poor marking at a set-piece gifted a chance to the Italy-based Zapata.
Stoke City defender Geoff Cameron was caught ball-watching as Edwin Cardona’s corner was curled in, and Zapata stole in front of his man to thunder home the finish.
The USA struggled to build any sort of momentum after that, with Colombia flooding midfield and pressing the Americans relentlessly.