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Colombia lead at half-time

Rio de Janeiro: James Rodriguez (picture left) scored with a spectacular volley to give Colombia a 1-0 lead over Uruguay at half-time, in their World Cup last-16 match, at the Maracana, on Saturday.

Rodriguez controlled the ball on his chest before swivelling and hitting a sublime volley from 20 metres, which went in off the underside of the crossbar.

Uruguay defended resolutely but posed little attacking threat with leading striker Luis Suarez serving the first game of his nine-match suspension for biting an opponent.

As per the first-half exchanges, Colombia were just about the better side, though Uruguay finished it the stronger.

For Uruguay, veteran Diego Forlan took the place of Suarez. Suarez left the World Cup on Friday after being suspended from playing by Fifa for biting Italian opponent Giorgio Chiellini in Uruguay’s last group match in Natal on Tuesday.

Forlan, 35, who played for the first hour in the opening match against Costa Rica, is one of two changes in coach Oscar Tabarez’s starting line-up with Maximiliano Pereira returning in defence in place of Nicolas Lodeiro.

Pereira was sent off in their opening 1-3 defeat to Costa Rica and after missing the game against England, returned as a half-time substitute for the match against Italy.

Colombia’s coach Jose Pekerman started with 10 of the team that secured qualification after beating Ivory Coast 2-1 in their second group match.

He played a largely reserve side against Japan when qualifying was already secured. The only change to his previous first choice starting line-up was the inclusion of striker Jackson Martinez, who scored twice in the 4-1 win over Japan, in place of midfielder Victor Ibarbo.

Rodriguez is highly rated by many, including Colombia great Carlos Valderrama. “For a long time in Colombia they have been looking for the next Carlos Valderrama and they’ve now finally found who that player is,” Valderrama recently said of Rodriguez. (Agencies)