Just as they dad in their opener against Japan, Ivory Coast brought on Didier Drogba midway through the second half. And just as it happened against Japan, two goals were quickly scored.
Except this time Colombia did the scoring.
James Rodriguez headed in the games first goal and set up the second with a steal at midfield. Juan Quintero finished the job, and Colombia held a two goal lead for, oh, a couple minutes.
Then Ivory Coast awoke. Gervinho blasted home a strike from inside the box after an impressive display of dribbling, but Colombia managed to withstand a furious flurry from the Ivory Coast in the final 20 minutes to hang on for the win.
Colombia now sits comfortably atop Group C with six points, while the Ivory Coast has three. Japan and Greece, both losers in their first match, play Thursday evening. A Greece win or draw ensures Colombia a spot in the knockout stage.
FINAL: Colombia 2 (Rodriguez 64', Quintero 70') - Ivory Coast 1 (Gervinho 73')
93' -- Mario Yepes with nearly a major gaffe, as he lets the ball through and Drogba almost converts. Colombia keeper David Ospina saves him, though, and clears it away harmlessly.
89' -- I'll have to check my math here, but Quintero just tested the keeper from, oh, a half-mile and almost dropped it in. In reality it was just inside midfield. Cheeky effort.
85' -- Ivory Coast attack leads to Colombia counter, which is blown and in turn leads to an Ivory Coast counter and weak shot on goal. Good chances aplenty.
84' -- The last few minutes have basically been just a series of Toure crosses of varying success.
80' -- Toure sent a screamer into the box but no one was able to get a head on it. Colombia looking shaky in the back.
74' -- LOTS AND LOTS OF GOALS. Gervinho gets fancy -- and makes a pretty impressive run -- and mashes one through. Everyone remember to breathe. This is nuts.
70' -- Goal, Colombia (part deux). Juan Quintero, who came on in the second half, gets a break and beats Barry far post for his first international goal.
70' -- The pace of this game: INSANE
64' -- GOALLLLLLL Colombia! James Rodríguez heads the corner just over Boubacar Barry's outstretched hand.
He's quite a little dancer, too!
60' -- And Drogba is on, Bony off.
59' -- Oh. Oh. Juan Cuadrado rings the post after some nifty moves in the box. Things are really starting to heat up.
58' -- Clumsy clearance from Colombia (#alliteration) leads to another great Ivory Coast chance but the shot dribbles wide. Been a pretty easy day for the keepers, that's for sure.
57' -- Toure sends a perfect ball into the box, but Wilfried Bony inexcplicably tries some weird spinning bicycle kick-type move and whiffs.
51' -- Some early action on both ends, but still no great chances converted. Like, there are chances for chances, but no actual chance, you know?
Halftime: Chances at a premium in the opening half, with Colombia having the best chance at goal. Ivory Coast starting just as they did against Japan; so the wait for Drogba's appearance begins. He's going to come on at some point in the second half, you'd have to think.
35' -- Yaya Toure is good.
32' -- Serge Aurier has a go, but Colombia keeper David Ospina handles his grounder.
28' -- Gutierrez has a wide, wide, wide open chance...and he absolutely duffs it. No other way to say it.
25' -- Cheick Tioté tries one from distance but it sails over the crossbar. Not a bad look for the Ivory Coast, and really their first try in a bit.
17' -- The tide has turned, somewhat, with Colombia piling up the chances. The giant soccer ball has yet to re-emerge, but I'll keep you guys posted.
13' -- Ivory Coast has been dominating possession throughout, which resulted in a solid counter-attack from Colombia, but no dice.
10' -- Good chance in the box for Ivory Coast, but the header is blocked before it reaches the net.
7' -- STOP EVERYTHING THERE IS A GIANT INFLATABLE SOCCER BALL ON THE PITCH
6' -- Long ball results in a great chance for Colombia, but Teófilo Gutiérrez's strike is well wide.
1' -- And we're underway.
noon ET: Lot of emotions during the anthems -- like open sobbing, almost. This one means a lot. Two winners squaring off.
11:45 p.m. ET: Didier Drogba again not in the starting lineup for the Ivory Coast. He came off the bench against Japan and was the catalyst for two quick goals. That looks to be the plan again.
Full lineups below.
Ivory Coast: Barry; Aurier, Bamba, Boka, Zokora; Tiote, Yaya Toure, Die, Gradel; Gervinho, Wilfried Bony
Colombia: Ospina; Armero, Zapata, Yepes, Zuniga; Aguilar, Sanchez, James, Cuadrado, Ibarbo; Teo.
Ivory Coast vs. Colombia (Group C) | Kickoff: 6/19, 12 p.m. ET | Stadium: Mane Garrincha
Match Preview: Colombia made quite the statement in their opener, pounding an over-matched Greek side 3-0. Things figure to get somewhat more difficult with the Ivory Coast, as both teams will look to take control of Group C.
Didier Drogba and the Ivory Coast had a rocky start against Japan, allowing an early goal before waking up in the second half and scoring twice to take the win. Drogba, who came on late, seemed to be the catalyst for the Ivory Coast, who is seeking its first appearance in the knockout stage of the World Cup.
A win Thursday would go a long way in ensuring that.