A surprising choreographed move gave Colombia a 1-0 win against Ecuador on Sunday in its first match of Copa America.
Edwin Cardona scored the winner at the Arena Pantanal in Cuiabá in the 42nd minute of a tense game.
The decisive moment started when midfielder Cardona took a free kick close to the edge of the Ecuadorian penalty box. Instead of shooting, he exchanged three short passes with Juan Guillermo Cuadrado, who moved the ball forward to where Miguel Borja was waiting.
Borja headed the ball back to Cardona, who had run toward goalkeeper Pedro Ortiz. He scored with a right-foot shot as Ecuadorian defenders watched on. The move had to be validated by video review.
The previous encounter between these teams ended 6-1 to Ecuador seven months ago in a World Cup qualifying game. Carlos Queiroz was fired as head coach after that heavy defeat. Sunday’s win was the second in three matches for Queiroz’ successor, Reinaldo Rueda.
The win against Ecuador was a further boost for Rueda, who has made some contention decisions early in his tenure, including the call to leave star midfielder James Rodriguez out of the Copa America squad.
Colombia shares the Group B lead with Brazil, although the tournament host and defending champions are ahead on goal difference.
Colombia’s next match is against Venezuela at the Olimpico stadium in Goiania on Thursday. Ecuador has a week until it plays Venezuela at the Nilton Santos stadium in Rio de Janeiro.