If FIFA were to give out the Golden Ball (awarded to the World Cup’s most valuable player) after just two matches, Colombia’s James Rodriguez just might be the favorite to take home the prize. The AS Monaco, who scored the third goal and helped set up two others in Colombia’s 3-0 win against Greece last week, was at it again on Wednesday against the Ivory Coast, powering Colombia’s opening goal with a bullet header from a corner before stealing the ball in midfield and springing a counterattack that was duly dispatched by forward Juan Quintero in Los Cafeteros’ 2-1 win.
Speaking to FIFA.com after the game, the 22-year-old could scarcely believe that he beat Chelsea legend Didier Drogba to the ball in heading home Colombia’s opener. “I’ve scored a few headers before, though not many to be honest, maybe three or four in my whole career. But this one was the most important of the lot and it’s made me happier than any other,” Rodriguez said, before adding: “No way! Was that Drogba who was marking me?”, he laughed. “I’m just happy to score and help my team get the win.” Rodriguez was voted Man of the Match for the second game in a row.
Thanks to Japan’s 0-0 draw with Greece on Thursday night, Colombia has qualified for the Round of 16, with 6 points from two games. Los Cafeteros sit on top of Group C, three points ahead of second-place Ivory Coast, and five points ahead of both Japan and Greece.