Colombia clinches World Cup berth with dramatic rally

Published Friday, October 11, 2013 6:50 AM by Roberto Garcia

Colombia was all but dead and buried Friday.  Trailing 3-0 with only 20 minutes to play Colombia staged a historic rally to clinch a berth at Brazil 2014 and send the home crowd into a celebration of epic proportions.

The first half belonged to Chile as they raced out to a 3-0 lead within the opening half hour of play.  An Arturo Vidal penalty kick got the scoring started in the 19th minute.  Two strikes from Alexis Sanchez within the next ten minutes gave visiting Chile a shock 3-0 lead.  The Colombian crowd were stunned into silence.

The second half brought out a mad and aggressive Colombia side.  They were pressing all over the field and putting in the tackles left and right.  A sending off for Chile's Carlos Carmona helped flip the match as he saw two yellow cards in only a minute just after the hour mark.  Just three minutes later they were rewarded as Teofilo Gutierrez grabbed a goal back to cut the lead to 3-1.

All the calls were going for Colombia.  A pair of penalty kicks were to complete the comeback.  In the 75th James Rodriguezwas taken down in the area earning a penalty kick.  Falcao put the spotkick down the middle as Chile keeper Claudio Bravo dove to the side.  Colombia were in a frenzy now and it was just a matter of time before they were to find the equalizer.

In the 84th once again James Rodriguez was fouled in the penalty area leaving Falcao another penalty kick.  He calmly fired the ball home to even the match 3-3.

The dramatic tie leaves Colombia in 2nd place in South American World Cup qualifying behind Argentina.  The result clinched a spot in next summer's World Cup which will be Colombia's first appearance since the 1998 World Cup. 

If Chile had held onto their lead they would have qualified.  Instead Chile have a bit more work to do, but they are still in a good spot to earn a place at Brazil 2014.  Chile only need a draw at home to Ecuador in the final match next week.  They would also grab a spot if Uruguay fail to beat Argentina.