It was the type of atmosphere that you would expect for a clash between two rival nations. This much just so happened to take place in the most “perfect” neutral setting possible. Miami is home to a huge population of Colombians and Venezuelans. Venezuela would get the first laugh but ultimately Colombia would get the last.
Venezuela wasted no time in upsetting the heavy Colombian crowd. Josef Martinez was definitely being watched in the early moments of the match as both centrebacks for Colombia kept a careful eye on the MLS striker, perhaps too close. In the fourth minute, midfielder Angel Gonzalez had plenty of room to work after getting a ball from Tomas Rincon. The ensuing cross flew 35 yards switching fields and finding Darwin Machis unmarked on the back post. Machis made no mistake and headed it past Napoli keeper David Ospina for the opening goal of the match.
Colombia would come roaring back accumulating chance after chance through the next forty minutes. Venezuelan keeper Wuilker Farinas would come up big time and time again. Perhaps none better than getting his hand on a Mateus Uribe volley that was earmarked for the back of the net. Farinas would come up big again after a terrible foul by Venezuela gave Colombia a set piece from right outside the penalty box from the right flank. The bended effort would force Farinas to tip it over the bar to preserve the lead.
After 45 minutes Colombia entered the locker room down a goal despite getting the better of the chances. To their credit Venezuela did not just turtle into a defensive shell, multiple chances to spring a counter were denied by Colombia’s back line with Josef Martinez lurking near by. The second half would right the ship for the Cafeteros.
Colombia would come out of the gates swinging again with two stunning attacks. In the 49th minute, when a link inp passes allowed Carlos Bacca to place a cheeky back heel in to the heart of the box. Farinas would spring forward and come up big once again. In the 51st minute, Radamel Falcao had a 2-on-1 opportunity with Bacca coming up his left. Falcao chose to test Farnias again and would be denied. Venezuela would spring a counter in the 54th minute but would settle for a shot from distance that did little to trouble Ospina.
In the 55th minute, Venezuela would pay as Colombia sprung free down the right flank. The ball was played into the box as Bacca corralled it and found Falcao at the penalty spot. After a quick touch, Falcao fired it low and past Farnias for Colombia’s equalizer. The Hard Rock Stadium crowd quickly came back to life.
The next twenty minutes would have both teams exchanging chances. Bacca would get a chance and be unable to convert as would Josef Martinez for Venezuela. The superstars would exit the match during this time as a total of nine substitutions would be made between the two countries.
Colombia looked to break through in the 83rd minute as Alfredo Morales was all alone on the back post. The perfectly executed cross would land on his right foot yet his effort could best be described as flubbed. The ball popped straight up and into the hands of Farinas.
The last five minutes of the contest provided end to end action as fans would rise to their feet at every opportunity. Colombia would get the first opportunity but be denied a chance at the goal as Venezuela sprung to counter. The effort from Venezuela would come right at Ospina and he would send Colombia back the other way.
The final breakthrough would come in the 90th minute as Colombia found their way past the deadlock. In a moment of absolute chaos, Yimmi Chara would find the ball at his feet after pinballing around. With two Vinotinto players in the net and a fellow Cafetero in the goal as well, his first effort would hit his countrymen in the back before bouncing back at his feet. His second effort would find the back of the net as Hard Rock Stadium erupted with delight.
The match would end moments later as Colombia kept the Vinotinto at bay. The 34,048 in attendance experienced a fantastic contest that displayed Miami’s ability to host major matches. Up next for the Magic City is another friendly between two CONMEBOL sides with Peru taking on Chile on Friday, Oct. 12.