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Radamel Falcao scored his first World Cup goal as Colombia revived their hopes of reaching the World Cup knockout phase with a 3-0 victory over Poland, who now cannot reach the last 16.
Monaco striker Falcao stroked home his 30th international goal, making him the first player from Colombia to reach such a milestone, midway through the second half of a cagey encounter in Kazan, where defeat for either side would have meant elimination from the competition.
Barcelona defender Yerry Mina scored the opener, powering a header beyond Wojciech Szczesny five minutes before half-time to enliven the contest, and it was the creativity and industry of Juan Cuadrado and James Rodriguez that picked apart Poland's tightly stitched seams.
The presence of James, fully fit again after a calf injury, vastly improved Colombia's link-up play following a below-par performance in their opening 2-1 defeat to Japan, and he provided the assist for Cuadrado to add a third goal that put the game well beyond Poland.
Victory leaves Jose Pekerman's side on three points in Group H, one point behind co-leaders Japan and Senegal ahead of their crunch match against the latter on Thursday.
Poland will have a role to play in deciding the fate of the group when they take on Japan, but ultimately head coach Adam Nawalka can have few complaints about being dumped out of the competition after two games in which his side failed to provide talismanic striker Robert Lewandowski with adequate service.
The first ever meeting between these two sides began with a number of heavy challenges at both ends of the field that prevented the game from developing into an early rhythm.
Colombia started to dominate the midfield and launched attacks down the right flank through Cuadrado, but the Juventus winger failed to penetrate a packed Poland defence.
Nawalka's side set their stall out to avoid falling behind as they did in the first half of their 2-1 defeat to Senegal and Colombia's chances of breaking their resolve were hit by an injury to Abel Aguilar, who was taken from the field on a stretcher in the 32nd minute and replaced by Mateus Uribe.
But shortly after Cuadrado came alive, running at the Poland defence and starting a move that culminated with an exquisitely weighted cross by James that was met by the head of Mina, who lost his marker to head over Szczesny's outstretched arms and into the net.
Juan Quintero fired wide from 25 yards as Colombia started the second half brightly and Cuadrado then squared to Falcao on the edge of the box, but the Monaco striker lifted his shot well over the crossbar.
The isolated Lewandowski's first real chance of the game arrived in the 58th minute when he controlled a long pass brilliantly only to shoot straight into David Ospina's midriff as Poland attempted their first shot on target of the game.
Having survived that scare, Colombia came to life and Quintero's superb slide-rule pass presented Falcao with a one-on-one situation and he expertly guided the ball past Szczesny with the outside of his right foot to double his side's lead.
With 15 minutes left on the clock, James' pass from the left found Cuadrado in space through the middle and he took a touch before applying an assured finish into the bottom-right corner of the net.
Colombia almost added a fourth after a mix-up between Jan Bednarek and Szczesny, but Uribe's backheel was cleared off the goal line to leave the final score 3-0.
Game over! Juan Cuadrado makes it 3-0! What an assist from James!
Goal! Falcao with a deft finish! 2-0! Kazan is jumping!
Mina with the header! 1-0 Colombia
Poland will be looking to get their World Cup back on track but will have a tough challenge when they take on Colombia at the Kazan Arena on Sunday evening.
After a disappointing performance in their 2-1 defeat against Senegal, Adam Nawałka will be expecting a reaction from his team who are playing for their place at the World Cup.
Robert Lewandowski had a subdued World Cup debut, and much will be expected of the Bayern Munich star, who was the leading European goalscorer in qualification to the tournament. Lewandowski will also face off against teammate James Rodrigez, who is also expected to start on Sunday.
After essentially handing Senegal the winning goal, Grzegorz Krychowiak will also be looking to step up against Colombia. The West Brom midfielder grabbed a late consolation against Japan, and will be looking to add to his tally, Krychowiak is likely to be a threat from set pieces for his side.
Poland Predicted team
Szczesny; Glik; Pazdan, Piszczek; Rybus, Goralski, Krychowiak, Bereszyniski; Grosicki, Zielinski, Lewandowski
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TV Channel- MAX HD3
Stadium- Kazan Arena, Kazan
Colombia will also be looking to fight back from a defeat in their opening group game against Japan. Carlos Sanchez saw red after just three minutes awarding Japan a penalty which they converted. Despite playing with ten men for the majority of the contest, the 2014 Quarterfinalists played well and will be confident of performing against Poland.
Radamel Falcao looked sharp on his World Cup debut, and will again be leading the line for his country. The Monaco striker will certainly be relishing the chance to play against a Polish backline that showed their weakness against Senegal. Whilst James Rodriguez seems to have shaken off an injury which reduced him to a substitute appearance for the opener against Japan.
Colombia Predicted Team
Ospina; Arias, Zapata, Murillo, Mojica; Aguilar, Barrios; Cuadrado, James, Muriel; Falcao
It promises to be interesting as Poland & Colombia face off in Volgograd. Watch the Live & Exclusive stream of the game on MAX HD3 & beIN SPORTS CONNECT.