Carlos Bacca and James Rodriguez had penalties saved but Colombia overcame struggling nine-man Venezuela 2-0 in a World Cup 2018 qualifier at the Estadio Metropolitano.
James ensured Colombia took an advantage into the interval, slotting home from the edge of the box in the second minute of first-half stoppage time.
Colombia’s onslaught continued after the break and the home side had a chance to put the match to bed when Wilker Angel was shown a second yellow card for fouling Bacca inside the area.
The striker saw his spot-kick saved by Venezuela goalkeeper Dani Hernandez, but the hosts kept the ball alive and James picked out Macnelly Torres to slot home the second with nine minutes remaining.
Rolf Feltscher was also dismissed when he received a second booking for a pull on James, but the Real Madrid attacking midfielder also failed to convert from 12 yards in the 94th minute.
Nevertheless, Colombia had done enough to secure a third successive victory in the CONMEBOL section, while Venezuela remain without a win in seven.
Jose Pekerman’s team came charging out the blocks and had a trio of chances inside the opening 10 minutes, but Luis Muriel, Torres and Bacca all failed to convert.
Venezuela soon gained a footing in the match, but Colombia goalkeeper David Ospina kept them at bay with a pair of brilliant saves.
After leaping to his left to palm Juanpi’s 20-yard free-kick over the top, Ospina flung a left arm to Josef Martinez’s effort and made enough contact to send it wide of the upright.
But Colombia ensured it was they who broke the deadlock as James committed Feltscher upon receiving Bacca’s pass, before slotting into the bottom corner.
The hosts continued to control the match after the restart, and Muriel came close to adding the second when his cross-goal effort from the left-hand side of the box shaded the far post.
Bacca was kept out twice by Hernandez before being afforded a golden chance to get on the scoresheet when he won a penalty from Angel, who was shown a second yellow card as a result.
The Milan marksman’s spot-kick was tame and too close to the goalkeeper, who comfortably parried it to his right, but Colombia retained possession and worked the ball over to James on the right, and he checked inside before floating a cross to Torres for the second.
Roger Martinez was denied by Hernandez before Feltscher walked for pulling back James in a second bookable offence, though contact appeared to be made outside the area.
But James failed to score the elusive third for the hosts as his low penalty was saved once again by Hernandez, though this time he held on to the ball.
Colombia travel to Manaus to play Brazil for their next outing on Wednesday, while Venezuela will face Argentina, without Angel or Feltscher due to suspension.
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