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Player ratings as La Celeste relegated to third place match

Player ratings as La Celeste relegated to third place match

James Rodriguez’s sixth-place goal, followed by Jefferson Lerma’s only goal, sent Colombia into the finals at the Copa America 2024 to face reigning champions Argentina.

James Rodriguez needed a strong performance to help Colombia reach the Copa America final and despite being quiet for much of the first half, he was in fine form heading into half-time. The former Real Madrid midfielder scored his sixth goal of the tournament when he headed Jefferson Lerma’s shot past Sergio Rochet at his near post to put Colombia 1-0 up.

All was going well for Colombia until extra time towards the end of the first 45 minutes. Crystal Palace defender Daniel Munoz was shown a red card after elbowing Manuel Ugarte and the 28-year-old made his case to referee Cesar Arturo Ramos, who replays showed Ugarte pushing him in the stomach. But Ramos didn’t believe it and Colombia were reduced to 10 men with a one-goal lead.

Despite playing the entire second half with 10 players, Colombia managed to survive and reach the final with a resilient defensive performance. Uruguay suffered heartbreak but have much to be proud of with their new identity under Marcelo Bielsa.

As for Nestor Lorenzo’s Colombia, things continue to look up for the South American nation under Rodriguez. Colombia have been one of the best teams in the tournament and deserve a place in the final, where they will face reigning champions Argentina and Lionel Messi.

It will be a tall order to topple the world’s best national team, but Colombia are capable of pulling off a major surprise by winning their second Copa America title in more than 20 years.

Darwin Nunez gets the nod ahead / JUAN MABROMATA/GettyImages

GK: Sergio Rochet – 6/10 – Lerma’s header was met by Richard Rios’ close-range shot, which went just under the goalpost.

CB: Sebastian Caceres – 7/10 – He made no mistakes in defence against Colombia’s talented attacking line.

CB: Jose Gimenez – 6/10 – He performed well, except for Lerma jumping over him in the first half and scoring the winning goal.

CB: Mathias Olivera – 7/10 – A player who was one of Uruguay’s best players in the first half but was substituted at the start of the second 45 minutes.

DM: Manuel Ugarte – 7/10 – He played almost everywhere for Uruguay, even playing as a centre-back for parts of the first half.

DM: Federico Valverde – 7/10 – The Real Madrid figure was as calm and collected on the ball as ever, but it was not enough to send La Celeste to the final.

RM: Facundo Pellistri – 6/10 – He couldn’t find the rhythm on the right wing and got caught by Olivera.

PM: Nicolas de la Cruz – 7/10 – Uruguay were already under significant pressure in the first half and de la Cruz was shown a yellow card for a very late challenge, but they recovered with a much better performance in the second half.

PM: Rodrigo Bentancur – 6/10 – He showed good movement with neat passes under pressure before having to come off the field with a lower leg injury.

LM: Maxi Araujo – 5/10 – He was invisible most of the time, just didn’t provide Uruguay with any presence on the left wing.

ST: Darwin Nunez – 5/10 – The Liverpool forward had several golden opportunities just outside the Colombian penalty area but failed to capitalise on them.

Backups

SUBSTITUTE: Guillermo Varela (35′ for Bentancur) – 5/10 – It didn’t help matters that Suarez was shown a yellow card before being substituted off.

SUBSTITUTE: Giorgian de Arrascaeta (46′ for Olivera) – 6/10 – After entering the game, he increased the tempo in the midfield from time to time.

SUBSTITUTE: Cristian Olivera (46′ for Pellistri) – 6/10 – If Suarez had scored inside the penalty area, it would have resulted in an equalizer.

SUBSTITUTE: Luis Suarez (67′ for Varela) – 6/10 – He could not equalize the score as his right-footed shot hit the post.

SUBSTITUTE: Agustin Canobbio (for la Cruz in the 90th) – None

Manager

Marcelo Bielsa – 6/10 – The former Leeds United boss fielded a full-back squad that many had questioned before kick-off – which isn’t exactly a huge surprise, apart from the fact that a run to the final was on the line. The decision to gamble and change things up wasn’t what was needed for a match of this nature, but Uruguay proved once again that they can go toe-to-toe with the best as the 2026 World Cup approaches.