A beautifully worked set-play gave Colombia a 1-0 win against Ecuador on Sunday in their first match of the 2021 Copa America.
Edwin Cardona scored in the 42nd minute, which proved to be the winner at the Arena Pantanal in Cuiaba, Brazil, in what was a tense affair.
The goalscorer Cardona took a free-kick close to the edge of the Ecuadorian penalty box that instead of shooting, he exchanged three short passes with Juan Cuadrado, who moved the ball forward to where Miguel Borja was waiting.
Borja headed the ball back to Cardona, who had run toward goalkeeper Pedro Ortiz and scored with a an easy right-foot shot as the Ecuadorian defenders watched on. The move had to be validated by VAR in order to count.
The previous meeting between the two sides ended 6-1 to Ecuador seven months ago in a FIFA World Cup qualifying game. Colombia sacked head coach Carlos Queiroz following that heavy defeat. Sunday’s win was the second in three matches for Queiroz’ successor, Reinaldo Rueda.
The win against Ecuador was a further boost for Rueda, who has made some bold decisions early in his tenure, including the call to leave star attacker James Rodriguez out of the Copa America squad.
Colombia is equal on points with hosts Brazil in Group B. Brazil won their first game comfortably as they beat Venezuela 3-0 in their opening game and are ahead of Los Cafeteros on goal difference.
Colombia’s next match is against Venezuela at the Olimpico stadium in Goiania on Thursday. Ecuador have a week until they play Venezuela at the Nilton Santos stadium in Rio de Janeiro in Group B of the Copa America.