BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil — Colombia started its first World Cup campaign in 16 years in dazzling fashion, beating Greece 3-0 to open Group C on Saturday in front of a big, loud pro-Colombian crowd.
Left back Armero opened the scoring in the fifth minute when his deflected shot rolled past Greece goalkeeper Orestis Karnezis. Striker
Teofilo Gutierrez poked in Colombia’s second goal from a deflected corner in the 58th and James Rodriguez capped it off with a low shot in stoppage time after a slick backheel flick from Juan Cuadrado.
Colombia’s pace and trickery were too much for Greece to handle in the latter stages and the 57,174 crowd, most dressed in bright yellow shirts, chanted "Ole, ole" after the result at Estadio Mineriao.
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Greece had the majority of possession with 54 per cent, but whenever Colombia players got hold off the ball, they blazed down the flanks and through the middle of the pitch, disorientating their opponents.
The Greeks had a chance to pull a goal back after Gutierrez’s goal, but an unmarked Georgios Samaras rattled the crossbar from two yards out.
There were other chances, too. Panagiotis Kone’s shot went just wide in the first half. Colombia goalkeeper David Ospina then made an outstanding reaction save to deny Kone just before halftime.
Greece defenders started getting frustrated with Colombia’s pace in the second half and began to foul the South Americans, with two players picked up yellow cards within minutes.
The result will give Colombia confidence that it can win competitive matches without star striker Radamel Falcao, who was ruled out after failing to recovery from a serious knee injury. The other Group C teams, Ivory Coast and Japan, were playing later Saturday.
Greece will now have to regroup ahead of its second match against Japan after its notoriously solid defence leaked three goals.