Colombia coach Jose Pekerman might regret his extensive changes as a 3-2 loss to Costa Rica cost his side top spot in Group A.
Colombia coach Jose Pekerman might be wondering if 10 changes was a few too many after his team went down 3-2 against Costa Rica in their final Copa America Centenario group game.
Pekerman and Co. looked to be in control of the group after seeing off the United States and Paraguay ahead of their final group game against Costa Rica, but their complacency was punished as they finished behind the hosts in disappointing circumstances, setting up a potential quarterfinal clash with Brazil in the process.
Celso Borges and Johan Venegas were in fine form as the eliminated Costa Ricans finished their tournament in style.
Venegas scored after just two minutes when he was picked out brilliantly by Borges before dispatching a 20-yard curler that left Colombia goalkeeper Robinson Zapata clutching at thin air, before fullback Frank Fabra produced a moment of individual brilliance to level the scoring with a fine solo goal.
Fabra went from hero to villain when he turned a Venegas cross into his own net with 10 minutes to play in the first half, before Borges added another with a tidy goal after 58 minutes, although a Marlos Moreno effort made for a nervous finish.
With qualification already secured, Pekerman rested his stars as he made 10 changes to the starting lineup that beat Paraguay with midfielder Sebastian Perez the only player remaining, but he came to rue such extensive changes.
Costa Rica, having already been eliminated following the United States’ 1-0 win over the Paraguayans earlier on Saturday, had Arsenal’s Joel Campbell named among the substitutes with Sporting CP’s Bryan Ruiz chosen to lead the line.
Venegas opened the scoring with a superb strike from 20 yards after brilliantly bringing down a cross-field pass from Borges, beating the offside trap and bearing down on goal.
His progress was hindered by the Colombia defense, which forced Venegas to put his foot on the ball and turn out, but that did not stop him from scoring as he knocked the ball a yard ahead of him and dispatched a brilliant finish from distance that found the far top corner.
However, their advantage did not last long as Fabra embarked on a mazy run starting on the left wing and finishing with a trail of Costa Rica defenders in his wake before slotting the ball under Patrick Pemberton.
He followed the sublime with the calamitous when his disastrous own goal put Costa Rica back into the lead when he bundled Venegas’ cross into his own net at the far post.
Pekerman turned to James Rodriguez at halftime as he hoped to wrestle back control of the game and avoid a defeat that could yet see them facing off against Brazil in the quarterfinals.
But his gamble did not pay off as Borges made it 3-1 just before the hour-mark when he finished off a lovely overlapping run and cross from substitute Bryan Oviedo.
Substitute Juan Cuadrado set up Moreno for Colombia’s second as they chased a crucial equalizer but they could not find it as Pekerman was left to rue his selection.