Colombia made an impressive start to their Group C campaign as an early Pablo Armero strike set them on the way to a comfortable win over Greece.

The Napoli defender rolled in Juan Cuadrado's fifth-minute cut-back.

Teofilo Gutierrez, leading Colombia's attack in the absence of the injured Radamel Falcao, then touched in from a James Rodriguez corner after the break.

Theofanis Gekas headed Greece's best chance against the bar, before Rodriguez steered in a late third.

Colombia celebrate their opening goal

Colombia's 3-0 win was their best result in World Cups, in their 14th match

It was a very solid showing from Colombia, who are looking to progress beyond the last 16 of a World Cup for the first time after finishing runners-up to Argentina in South American qualifying.

But the pressure is on attacking talents such as Gutierrez and Rodriguez to produce goals after Monaco forward Falcao, their nine-goal top scorer in the qualification campaign, was ruled out of the tournament with a knee injury.

He did his bit to help his compatriots by offering hugs and moral support to his team-mates in the tunnel before the match.

And cheered on by the majority of the crowd at Estadio Mineirao in Belo Horizonte, Jose Pekerman's side responded with a goal inside the first five minutes.

Greece: Not-so-lightning

Greece have conceded in the opening seven minutes of their first match in each of their three World Cup finals appearances.

They went a goal down after two minutes of a 4-0 defeat against Argentina in Boston at the 1994 tournament, and in the seventh minute as they lost 2-0 to South Korea in Port Elizabeth at South Africa 2010.

The creative Cuadrado rolled the ball across the penalty area from the right, and Armero - who spent the second half of last season on loan at West Ham - scored only his second goal in 54 international appearances with a shot that trundled in off Greece centre-back Kostas Manolas.

It was a far from spectacular goal - and television replays showed three Colombia players were standing in offside positions - but the left-back and his team-mates celebrated with an eye-catching dance in front of their bench.

The craft of £37.6m Monaco midfielder Rodriguez and pace of Cagliari forward Victor Ibarbo threatened repeatedly to cause further damage to the Greece backline, although they had to be patient before the rewards came.

And Pekerman's defence had to survive some difficult moments themselves, with Panagiotis Kone unable to take either of two chances that came his way.

Kone should have equalised within seconds of Armero's opener, but scuffed wide from 15 yards after former Celtic striker Georgios Samaras had cut the ball back to him from the left.

The Bologna midfielder went close again just before half-time when his 20-yard steered shot was pushed away athletically by keeper David Ospina after Gekas's charge into the penalty area was held up and Samaras worked the ball loose.

James Rodriguez

James Rodriguez's late goal sealed a sixth Greece defeat in seven World Cup finals matches

But it was a frustrating afternoon for Greece, who lacked enough adventure to find a way back into the match.

After the impressive Rodriguez had ended a run with a shot from outside the area that keeper Orestis Karnezis beat away, he then delivered the corner that led to Colombia's second goal, with Abel Aguilar flicking on at the near post for an unattended Gutierrez to touch in from inside the six-yard box.

Gekas, preferred to Fulham striker Kostas Mitroglou in attack, capped a day to forget when he headed Vasilis Torosidis's nod-back against the bar from six yards.

Colombia sealed victory with a stylish late goal, as exciting Fiorentina midfielder Cuadrado burst to the edge of the penalty area before setting up Rodriguez to guide a shot into the corner of the net.

Colombia coach Jose Pekerman:

"The crucial thing was that everyone did the job they were tasked with and that allowed us to play calmly. This result is very important for us and sets us up well for the rest of the group stage.

"We haven't won anything yet, though I am very happy with this performance.

"We can prove how great Colombian football really is, but this was only the first game."

Greece coach Fernando Santos:

"They caused us a lot of problems from the opening minutes. We did get back into the game, though, and the end result was a little bit unfair.

"The score doesn't show it, but I think we played well.

"But these games are turned on the details, and they didn't work for us today. We're still proud to be here, and we'll continue to play hard."

Lineup, Bookings (3) & Substitutions (6)

Colombia

  • 01 Ospina
  • 18 Zuñiga
  • 07 Armero (Arias - 74' )
  • 06 Sánchez Booked
  • 02 Zapata
  • 03 Yepes
  • 11 Cuadrado
  • 08 Aguilar (Mejía - 69' )
  • 09 Gutiérrez (Martinez - 76' )
  • 10 Rodríguez
  • 14 Ibarbo

Substitutes

  • 04 Arias
  • 05 Carbonero
  • 12 Vargas
  • 15 Mejía
  • 16 Balanta
  • 17 Bacca
  • 19 Ramos
  • 20 Quintero
  • 21 Martinez
  • 22 Mondragón
  • 23 Valdés

Greece

  • 01 Karnezis
  • 15 Torosidis
  • 20 Holebas
  • 08 Kone (Karagounis - 78' )
  • 04 Manolas
  • 19 Papastathopoulos Booked
  • 14 Salpingidis Booked (Fetfatzidis - 57' )
  • 21 Katsouranis
  • 17 Gekas (Mitroglou - 64' )
  • 02 Maniatis
  • 07 Samaras

Substitutes

  • 03 Tzavellas
  • 05 Moras
  • 06 Tziolis
  • 09 Mitroglou
  • 10 Karagounis
  • 11 Vyntra
  • 12 Glykos
  • 13 Kapino
  • 16 Christodoulopoulos
  • 18 Fetfatzidis
  • 22 Samaris
  • 23 Tachtsidis
Ref: Mark Geiger
Att: 57,174

Match Stats

Shots

13 11

On target

6 2

Corners

4 4

Fouls

19 14

Live Text Commentary

Full time

Full Time Match ends, Colombia 3, Greece 0.

90:00 +3:47 Full time

Full Time Second Half ends, Colombia 3, Greece 0.

90:00 +2:11 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Colombia 3, Greece 0. James Rodríguez (Colombia) left footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Juan Guillermo Cuadrado.

90:00 +2:00

Foul by Giorgos Karagounis (Greece).

90:00 +2:00

Juan Zuñiga (Colombia) wins a free kick on the right wing.

90:00 +0:49

Foul by Ioannis Fetfatzidis (Greece).

90:00 +0:49

James Rodríguez (Colombia) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

85:36

Foul by Giorgos Karagounis (Greece).

85:36

Jackson Martinez (Colombia) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

84:06

Attempt missed. Georgios Samaras (Greece) left footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the left.

81:07

Giorgos Karagounis (Greece) wins a free kick on the left wing.

81:07

Foul by Jackson Martinez (Colombia).

80:42

Hand ball by Jackson Martinez (Colombia).

78:35

Giorgos Karagounis (Greece) wins a free kick on the right wing.

78:35

Foul by Carlos Sánchez (Colombia).

77:54 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Greece. Giorgos Karagounis replaces Panagiotis Kone.

77:26

Foul by Giannis Maniatis (Greece).

77:26

James Rodríguez (Colombia) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

76:56

Giannis Maniatis (Greece) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

76:56

Foul by Víctor Ibarbo (Colombia).

76:23

Attempt saved. Santiago Arias (Colombia) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Jackson Martinez.

75:30 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Colombia. Jackson Martinez replaces Teófilo Gutiérrez.

74:29

Sokratis (Greece) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

74:29

Foul by Juan Guillermo Cuadrado (Colombia).

74:14

Attempt blocked. Giannis Maniatis (Greece) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Konstantinos Katsouranis.

73:27 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Colombia. Santiago Arias replaces Pablo Armero.

71:28

Foul by Giannis Maniatis (Greece).

71:28

James Rodríguez (Colombia) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

69:44

Corner, Greece. Conceded by Mario Yepes.

69:43

Attempt blocked. Kostas Mitroglou (Greece) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Georgios Samaras.

68:14

Offside, Greece. Panagiotis Kone tries a through ball, but Kostas Mitroglou is caught offside.

68:02 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Colombia. Alexander Mejía replaces Abel Aguilar.

67:38

Konstantinos Katsouranis (Greece) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

67:38

Foul by Víctor Ibarbo (Colombia).

66:59

Hand ball by Teófilo Gutiérrez (Colombia).

66:23

Attempt blocked. James Rodríguez (Colombia) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Teófilo Gutiérrez.

65:49

Corner, Colombia. Conceded by José Holebas.

64:02

Vasilis Torosidis (Greece) wins a free kick on the right wing.

64:02

Foul by Pablo Armero (Colombia).

63:20 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Greece. Kostas Mitroglou replaces Theofanis Gekas.

62:27

Theofanis Gekas (Greece) hits the bar with a header from very close range. Assisted by Vasilis Torosidis.

61:11

Georgios Samaras (Greece) wins a free kick on the left wing.

61:11

Foul by Juan Guillermo Cuadrado (Colombia).

59:56

Panagiotis Kone (Greece) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

59:56

Foul by Abel Aguilar (Colombia).

57:26 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Colombia 2, Greece 0. Teófilo Gutiérrez (Colombia) left footed shot from very close range to the top left corner. Assisted by Abel Aguilar following a corner.

57:04

Corner, Colombia. Conceded by Giannis Maniatis.

56:53

Foul by Georgios Samaras (Greece).

56:53

Juan Guillermo Cuadrado (Colombia) wins a free kick on the right wing.

56:10 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Greece. Ioannis Fetfatzidis replaces Dimitrios Salpingidis.

55:47

Sokratis (Greece) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

55:47

Foul by James Rodríguez (Colombia).

54:25 Booking

Booking Dimitrios Salpingidis (Greece) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

54:22

Foul by Dimitrios Salpingidis (Greece).

54:22

Pablo Armero (Colombia) wins a free kick on the left wing.

53:26

Dimitrios Salpingidis (Greece) wins a free kick on the right wing.

53:26

Foul by Mario Yepes (Colombia).

53:01

Attempt missed. Juan Guillermo Cuadrado (Colombia) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the left following a set piece situation.

52:57

Attempt blocked. James Rodríguez (Colombia) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

51:48 Booking

Booking Sokratis (Greece) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

51:46

Foul by Sokratis (Greece).

51:46

Víctor Ibarbo (Colombia) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

50:11

Georgios Samaras (Greece) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

50:11

Foul by Juan Zuñiga (Colombia).

48:57

Attempt saved. James Rodríguez (Colombia) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Carlos Sánchez.

48:34

Foul by Sokratis (Greece).

48:34

Víctor Ibarbo (Colombia) wins a free kick on the right wing.

48:17

Attempt blocked. Dimitrios Salpingidis (Greece) right footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked.

45:41

Foul by Georgios Samaras (Greece).

45:41

Juan Zuñiga (Colombia) wins a free kick on the right wing.

45:00

Second Half begins Colombia 1, Greece 0.

45:00 +1:02 Half time

Half Time First Half ends, Colombia 1, Greece 0.

44:27

Corner, Greece. Conceded by David Ospina.

44:25

Attempt saved. Panagiotis Kone (Greece) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Georgios Samaras.

43:13

Attempt missed. Juan Guillermo Cuadrado (Colombia) right footed shot from the right side of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Víctor Ibarbo.

41:47

Offside, Greece. Giannis Maniatis tries a through ball, but Dimitrios Salpingidis is caught offside.

41:11

Attempt missed. Mario Yepes (Colombia) header from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by James Rodríguez with a cross following a corner.

40:47

Corner, Colombia. Conceded by José Holebas.

39:25

Offside, Greece. José Holebas tries a through ball, but Theofanis Gekas is caught offside.

37:59

Corner, Greece. Conceded by Juan Zuñiga.

36:49

Attempt missed. James Rodríguez (Colombia) left footed shot from a difficult angle on the right is too high. Assisted by Víctor Ibarbo with a cross following a corner.

36:04

Corner, Colombia. Conceded by Sokratis.

33:36

Corner, Greece. Conceded by Pablo Armero.

32:37

Attempt missed. Juan Guillermo Cuadrado (Colombia) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Abel Aguilar.

29:09

Attempt missed. Panagiotis Kone (Greece) right footed shot from outside the box is too high.

27:14

Attempt missed. Vasilis Torosidis (Greece) with an attempt from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by José Holebas with a cross following a set piece situation.

26:39

Georgios Samaras (Greece) wins a free kick on the left wing.

26:39

Foul by Juan Zuñiga (Colombia).

25:27 Booking

Booking Carlos Sánchez (Colombia) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

25:24

Georgios Samaras (Greece) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

25:24

Foul by Carlos Sánchez (Colombia).

19:22

Giannis Maniatis (Greece) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

19:22

Foul by Víctor Ibarbo (Colombia).

17:09

Attempt saved. James Rodríguez (Colombia) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Abel Aguilar.

15:19

Offside, Colombia. Juan Zuñiga tries a through ball, but Teófilo Gutiérrez is caught offside.

13:43

Mario Yepes (Colombia) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

13:43

Foul by Dimitrios Salpingidis (Greece).

12:38

Foul by Teófilo Gutiérrez (Colombia).

12:38

Kostas Manolas (Greece) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

12:16

Víctor Ibarbo (Colombia) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

12:16

Foul by Vasilis Torosidis (Greece).

11:07

Juan Zuñiga (Colombia) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

11:07

Foul by Theofanis Gekas (Greece).

10:51

Attempt blocked. José Holebas (Greece) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

9:53

Foul by Víctor Ibarbo (Colombia).

9:53

Vasilis Torosidis (Greece) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

7:48

James Rodríguez (Colombia) wins a free kick on the right wing.

7:48

Foul by Panagiotis Kone (Greece).

5:54

Attempt missed. Panagiotis Kone (Greece) right footed shot from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Georgios Samaras.

4:49 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Colombia 1, Greece 0. Pablo Armero (Colombia) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Juan Guillermo Cuadrado.

4:10

Attempt saved. Giannis Maniatis (Greece) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Panagiotis Kone.

3:47

Foul by Abel Aguilar (Colombia).

3:47

Georgios Samaras (Greece) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

0:00

First Half begins.

0:00

Lineups are announced and players are warming up.

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