Colombia became the first team to topple Ecuador in CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying courtesy of a 3-1 win in Barranquilla.
Colombia coach Jose Pekerman retained faith in the majority of the side he sent out during the 3-2 win away to Bolivia on Thursday and he was repaid with a masterful performance.
Carlos Bacca (two) and Sebastian Perez scored the goals for his side as Ecuador – who struck late through Michael Arroyo – struggled for fluency throughout after their dramatic 2-2 draw against Paraguay last time out.
Angel Mena started after his last-minute equaliser against Paraguay while Antonio Valencia moved into a more advanced role having played at right-back last time out.
Ecuador came into the game undefeated, but it was Colombia who looked untouchable for much of the first half.
James Rodriguez was at the heart of some scintillating football from the hosts as they took the game to the CONMEBOL group leaders.
Ecuador created the first chance of note after Antonio Valencia managed to cut the ball back to Enner Valencia, but his shot was straight at David Ospina in the Colombia goal.
It was all Colombia from then on and Bacca was looking ominously sharp when he created a bit of space for himself and fired off a shot after 10 minutes.
The effort was straight at Alexander Dominguez in the Ecuador goal, but his footwork to create the space was noteworthy and, after James tested the goalkeeper himself inside 13 minutes, Bacca would use it to devastating effect.
James played an inch-perfect pass to the feet of Bacca, who showed great strength and touch to control the ball and hold off his defender, before turning and slotting beyond Dominguez.
The Ecuador goalkeeper had to be at his best seven minutes later to deny Bacca a second after some superb football from Colombia, before James wasted a good opportunity when he perhaps should have passed to Juan Cuadrado, who was gunning for the right side of the goal and unmarked.
Pedro Quinonez sent a shot from distance wide for Ecuador after 39 minutes as he tried to will his side back into the contest, before James and Bacca failed to convert on a two-on-two opportunity at the other end at the end of the first half.
And the second half continued in the same vein as Perez scored his first international goal for Colombia, an acrobatic finish to glance home a lovely Edwin Cardona cross off the post.
Ecuador showed some fight thereafter but it was not enough to stop Bacca scoring his second and sealing the win for the hosts, the AC Milan forward provided the simple finish from Cuadrado’s selfless cross after a Dominguez clearance turned the ball over in a dangerous position.
The visitors found a consolation effort when Arroyo struck a superb free-kick in stoppage time.
The result, perhaps temporarily, moves Colombia into the top four of the CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying standings.
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