Quintero impresses but Sanchez flops for Colombia in defeat to Japan
Colombia suffered a surprise 2-1 defeat to Japan in their World Cup opener on Monday. While Juan Fernando Quintero impressed in place of James Rodriguez -- fit enough only to start on the bench -- Jose Pekerman's side were left to rue an early red card.
Carlos Sanchez's third minute dismissal left Colombia with too much to do; although Quintero levelled, Japan eventually prevailed.
Pekerman will have to work hard to overcome this bad start against Group H's weakest side, at least on paper.
Almost nothing, bar Quintero. He carried his team on his shoulders at the worst of times and scored a fine free kick to level things in the first half.
Colombia lacked the creativity and patience needed to turn the match around. It is very difficult to play with 10 men at the highest level, and not even the best individual quality was enough for them to come from behind.
Sanchez's sending off obviously affected the team's midfield work, where they couldn't create anything beyond Quintero's attempts.
Manager rating out of 10
5 -- Pekerman fielded an unexpected starting XI, with Oscar Murillo at the back and Jefferson Lerma, a defensive midfielder, playing alongside Sanchez in midfield. However, there wasn't enough time to know if he'd made the right choice, as Sanchez's red card changed the landscape completely. He made the required substitutions, especially Wilmar Barrios for Juan Cuadrado to free up Quintero. He gave James the opportunity to showcase his talent, and also to give Quintero some rest. By introducing Carlos Bacca he sought to give Radamel Falcao some company, but it wasn't enough.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK David Ospina, 6 -- A good performance before the second goal, and there wasn't much he could do about the penalty. In the second half he made several good saves one-on-one, and he inspired confidence. At fault for Japan's winner, finding himself in no man's land for Yuya Osako's strike.
DF Santiago Arias, 3 -- Nervous and insecure, his defensive performance was weak and he committed too many fouls. He was also at fault for Japan's second.
DF Davinson Sanchez, 3 -- Made a very serious mistake when he lost the ball and his marker in the lead up to Japan's penalty, and couldn't recover. He was visibly nervous after that and his timing was off despite the fact that Japan didn't press too much, with the exception of some isolated counter attacks.
DF Oscar Murillo, 4 -- His partnership with Davinson was not successful and his defensive work was poor. But he played with courage.
DF Johan Mojica, 4 -- Wasn't very helpful in the middle and even less in the attacking zone.
MF Carlos Sanchez, N/R -- He played just three minutes. Following Davinson's mistake, he reacted quickly handling Shinji Kagawa's penalty inside the area and ended up being sent off. That move made things difficult for Colombia. It's the first red card at Russia 2018 and at a little under three minutes, the second quickest in tournament history.
MF Jefferson Lerma, 5 -- The main victim of Sanchez's departure. He couldn't make use of all his physical advantages and on his debut on the big stage, he was a little lost at times, but that wasn't his fault.
MF Juan Cuadrado, 3 -- Replaced by Barrios after 30 minutes after failing to get the better of Yuto Nagatomo. This time, the usual havoc his play causes wasn't very useful. Couldn't make a difference with his dribbling.
MF Juan Quintero, 8 -- The best player for Colombia and the smartest one. He managed to create the best chances, and beyond the superb goal he scored, he was also the less anxious player in the worst moment of the match. Misplaced a few passes but that's the price you pay when you always look to take risks. He came out looking tired in the second half and James was brought on.
MF Jose Izquierdo, 4 -- Colombia attacked more often down the centre and he could't offer a better option. He's a strong, physical player, but he wasn't able to show more than that.
FW Radamel Falcao, 6 -- He put up a fight as usual, but he couldn't get clear chances to score. On his World Cup debut, he showed his heart and will, and was the leader of the side. He won the foul that resulted in the free kick and Quintero's goal that lifted the fans. He deserved better.
MF Wilmar Barrios, 5 -- He was brought on in the first half and made a mistake with the first ball he touched, but after that, he got better.
MF James Rodriguez, 5 -- He wasn't supposed to play, but he entered after things got complicated. Colombia will need him in his prime against Poland.
FW Carlos Bacca, 5 -- Barely touched the ball.