The Colombians on Tuesday night became the first nation in the Copa America Centenario to clinch their spot in the quarterfinals with a 2-1 victory over Paraguay in the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.
A poor first half from Los Guaraníes doomed them in their second match of group A. the defense fell apart twice and allowed Los Cafeteros to score two goals by the 30th-minute mark. They were able to rebound in the second half by cutting the lead in half with a long-range bomb from substitute Víctor Ayala in the 71st minute.
However, that was as close as Paraguay would get in the match. A combination of Colombia's goalkeeper David Ospina making saves and La Albirroja failing to execute down the stretch sent them to their next match with zero points. Paraguay's midfielder Oscar Romero picking up his second yellow card just two minutes after receiving his first in the 79th minute summed up their night in Pasadena.
Now let's take a look at La Albirroja player's performances.
The defense first half performance proved to be too much for the Paraguayans to overcome
GK: Justo Villar (7): The keeper did his best in the match and ended the game with five saves. The two goals that Colombia scored were not his fault.
DEF: Bruno Valdez (5): In the first goal for Los Cafeteros, was in no man's land. Valdez was standing in the middle of the penalty box jumping to hopefully head the ball out of the danger area. However, standing a few steps to his left was La Tricolor's Carlos Bacca heading in the first goal. If he would have placed himself in a better position the Colombians might not have jumped ahead so early in the match.
He was involved in the second goal of Colombia. Even though he attempted to steal the ball and then block James Rodriguez shot the second goal still came. The only reason why he got five was because at times he made some dangerous run in the attack, but beyond that he struggled on the defensive end.
Gustavo Gómez (4): As the center back he struggled to slow down the Los Cafeteros. At some points in the game, the Colombian did what they wanted in the penalty box because they met so little resistance. La Tricolor could have easily entered halftime with a three or four goal lead.
Paulo Da Silva (4): Similar to Gómez, Silva had a rough night in Pasadena. In the first half, it seemed like every time they cleared the ball Colombia was back on the offensive. They finally got a breather in the second half when Los Cafeteros started to lose their initiative.
Miguel Samudio (4): If Valdez was caught in no man's land for the first goal. Samudio was to blame for Bacca having a non-contested header. He was next to the Colombian striker when he scored but he was on the ground and struggling to keep his balance.
In fact, if Bacca would have missed the header the referee could have called a penalty on Samudio. The full-back was caught flat-footed when Rodriguez placed the corner kick right at the direction of Bacca. He attempted to bring the Colombian down by clearly placing a hand on each shoulder. However, Bacca kept his cool and scored the goal in the 12th minute.
The offense struggled to get anything going in this match
MID: Robert Piris Da Motta (4): He did manage to get off one shot, which was off target. However, he was ineffective for the majority of the game.
Celso Ortiz (5): He ran and attempted to make a difference but failed to impact the game enough. He did put in a lot of effort that went in vein at the end.
Miguel Almirón (5): Like all the midfielders for Paraguay they struggled to produce legit goal scorer chances. Regardless, that they had more possession of the ball. He was a part of that problem.
Oscar Romero (2): The simple fact that he picked up two yellow cards in a span of two minutes gives him the low grade. As a professional soccer player, he should know that the game is almost done and he is already carrying a yellow card. His main job for the rest of the game is to not do or get involved with anything that can potentially get him a second yellow and cost his team.
Edgar Benítez (3): Struggled in the first half to do anything really impactful, which resulted with him being subbed out at halftime.
FWD: Darío Lezcano (3): The striker's job is simple, score or at least attempt to. However, for Lezcano, he only finished with one shot, yet it was on target but that was it. He did commit seven fouls and picked up a yellow card in the process. It was no surprise that he was subbed out early in the second half; he looked closer to picking up his second yellow then scoring a goal.
Besides Ayala's magic moment, the subs did not impact the game
Jorge Benítez (Came in for Motta at the 45th minute, 5): He hustled and ran all over the field but similar to his teammates the execution in the final third was lacking.
Victor Ayala (Came in for Benítez at the 45th minute, 7): He provided a spark in the Paraguayan attack instantly. His effort made the Colombians foul him in twice in the game. He also ended the match with two attempts on goal but easily finished the game with the best goal of the match. His goal provided La Albirroja, a glimmer of hope as they cut the lead down to one goal. However, that one goal proved to be much of an obstacle for them to overcome.
Antonio Sanabria (Came in for Lezcano in the 67th minute, 4): His effort was an improvement from Lezcano, but nothing came from it.
Paraguay needs to regroup
Head coach: Ramón Diaz (5): He attempted to change the outcome by make substitutions at halftime and early in the second half but it did not affect the outcome. However, he was able to get his team to perform better in the second half.
The Paraguayans with this result now have to beat the United States in their group stage finale on Saturday if they want to advance to the quarterfinals. A draw will see them get eliminated since the Americans have a better goal differential. La Albirroja vital match against the USMNT will be held at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.