Navi Mumbai: As Colombia and USA squared-off for their final group game at the DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai, half a mind for most fans was trained to the happenings in New Delhi where India faced Ghana. The result at each venue significantly important to the other.
As the minutes passed in Delhi and Navi Mumbai, so did the fortunes sway from one end to the other for the teams in play. USA began the day on top of Group A with six points. A win for them would have assured them safe passage to the knockout stage as table toppers, but would have meant an easier opponent in the next round. For India a USA victory could have also been a source of hope for slim chances of progression.
Ghana and Colombia, though, had other plans for USA and India’s lofty ambitions.
USA were beaten 3-1 by Colombia in Navi Mumbai, even as Ghana drubbed India 4-0 in New Delhi. Not only were India’s fortunes quashed, but USA’s seemingly straightforward passage to the knockouts as table-toppers changed in a span of minutes across two Indian cities.
Ghana’s impressive win in New Delhi catapulted them from third in the table to the top. Colombia on the other hand pulled off a clinical performance to seal their spot in the knockouts.
The USA only had themselves to blame for their ordeal. John Hackworth’s boys were chasing the game from early on. They fell back as early as the fourth minute when Juan Vidal drilled home from close range with a right footed shot from a Diber Caicedo pass.
They did pull one back 20 minutes later. George Acosta was on the ball, tapping in from an Andrew Carleton cross to take his side into half-time all square at 1-1.
Colombia, though, came into the second half in determined fashion. Juan Penaloza, the man who shattered India’s hopes in the second match, gave them the lead in the 67th minute after a splendid free-kick from the edge of the penalty box on the right.
Results in New Delhi had trickled in by then and Ghana were already 2-0 up. The pressure on USA to score was intense and they put everyone in attack. Colombia capitalised on the break three minutes from time as Caicedo and Penaloza combined to seal the win for the South Americans.
A minute later Ghana had drilled in two more and were safely perched on top of the group. A goal at that stage for USA would have sent them in second place, but Colombia denied them the satisfaction.
At six points, USA have more or less booked a place in the knockouts as one of the best third-placed team. But, as they look back at the game, they will rue their slide from the top to almost the bottom. USA now face a tricky clash in the round of 16 where they will come up against a top side from the other groups.