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James steals the show, again
by Paul Kennedy, June 29th, 2014 3:58AM

TAGS:  brazil, colombia, world cup 2014


[WORLD CUP: Three Stars] Move over, Neymar and Lionel Messi. See you later, Cristiano Ronaldo. The World Cup has a new star. James Rodriguez took over the scoring lead at the World Cup with two more goals for Colombia to give him five in four games. For a look at Saturday's three stars at the World Cup.

1. JAMES RODRIGUEZ. The quality of his goals has everyone buzzing. His first against Uruguay -- arguably the goal of the tournament -- was scored with a volley after he took the ball off his chest, and the second followed in intricate exchange of passes, allowing him to score from close range. The first goal prompted the Caracol commentator in Colombia to shout "Gol!" for a full 40 seconds.

James, only 22, became the first player since Italian Christian Vieri in 1998 and youngest player since Teofilo Cubillas of Peru in 1970 to score in his first four World Cup matches.

Goals in first four World Cup games:
Guillermo Stabile
(Argentina) 1930
Leonidas (Brazil) 1934-38
Gyorgy Sarosi (Hungary) 1934-38
Alcides Ghiggia (Uruguay) 1950
Erich Probst (Austria) 1954
Sandor Kocsis (Hungary) 1954
Just Fontaine (France) 1958
Ferenc Bene (Hungary) 1966
Gerd Mueller (West Germany) 1970
Teofilo Cubillas (Peru) 1970
Christian Vieri (Italia) 1998
James Rodriguez (Colombia) 2014

2. JUAN CUADRADO. James' play has overshadowed the performance of the Fiorientina winger, who assisted James' second goal as Colombia beat Uruguay, 2-1, to win its first game ever in the knockout stage.

“We have made history,” said Cuadrado afterwards. “Our objective has been achieved, now we are thinking about each game as it comes to see where we can end up.”

Up next is Brazil on July 4. Brazil may have Neymar, but it has no one else who has played close to Cuadrado's level to give the hosts a 1-2 punch to match James-Cuadrado.

3. JULIO CESAR. The Toronto FC keeper was harshly criticized for hs performance after Brazil lost to the Netherlands in the 2010 World Cup quarterfinals, but he stopped the first two Chilean attempts in the shootout as Brazil won, 3-2, after its match with Chile ended, 1-1.

Julio Cesar was so overcome by emotion he cried in his post-game interview for Brazilian television. He said he remembered his post-game interview four years ago after he whiffed on Wesley Sneijder's cross that went into the goal, but his tears on Saturday, he said, were tears of joy.

"I hope in the next matches things won't be decided by the penalty kicks," he said later. "Otherwise, our families will die from heart attacks."

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