Two-thirds of game time had elapsed without a goal, but the World Cup encounter between Colombia and Ivory Coast had not taken the tone of a scoreless tie.
Both sides were running and gunning. Their shots were just shunning the nets. Unless the teams bowed to frustration or exhaustion, a goal seemed inevitable.
One came in minute No. 64, then another, and another -- three within nine minutes. Colombia claimed the first two and hung on for a 2-1 victory that sends the South Americans from Group C into the knockout phase. Ivory Coast still could join them.
Colombia's youth brigade accounted for both goals. James Rodriguez, 22, took flight on a corner kick by Juan Cuadrado and flicked in a header off the right side of his forehead. Then a steal in Ivory Coast territory from Serey Die led to a fast break, finished off by unthreatened Juan Quintero, 21, the tournament's latest reserve to leave an imprint.
The Ivorians, down by two, dialed up the attack and scored on a flash of brilliance by Gervinho, the only single-named player on the roster. He split two defenders, eluded a third and, after several dizzying changes in direction, coaxed in a shot off goalkeeper David Ospina's hand.
From then on, the spotlight was trained on Ivory Coast supersub Didier Drogba, who entered on cue in the 60th minute. In stoppage time, he darted past the entire Colombia defense in pursuit of a loose ball, drawing Ospina dangerously out of the box. But Drogba's 36-year-old legs could not get him to the ball before Ospina arrived, and the Ivorians' last opportunity was snuffed out.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times