The United States started their Copa America Centenario campaign on home soil with a disappointing 2-0 defeat to Colombia.
A goal from Christian Zapata and a controversial penalty scored by James Rodriguez were enough to see off the Americans in Santa Clara.
James suffered a nightmare season in Spain with Real Madrid despite winning the Champions League, but this was a dream start to the Copa America Centenario, with the Colombia star’s penalty and Cristian Zapata’s cool finish from a corner helping Colombia see off hosts USA in the opening match.
Colombia took just eight minutes to open the scoring, with centre-back Zapata deftly flicking the ball beyond Brad Guzan, before James doubled the lead from the penalty spot minutes before half-time, leaving America seeing stars and stripes.
USA had plenty of spirit but lacked creative nous and bar a couple of long-range Clint Dempsey efforts and a Geoff Cameron header that was hacked off the line, they didn’t come close to getting one past Arsenal’s David Ospina. Most of the entertainment for their fans came from the pre-match performance by Jason Derulo at the opening ceremony.
The tens of thousands of Colombians packed into the stadium, by contrast, were having a wild time.
It was a fine finish from Zapata, but there was a notable lack of marking from the corner kick, with the AC Milan defender left to his own devices.
By contrast, Colombia’s defence and midfield were sharp, and although the game flowed end to end, by the 30 minute mark the USA had been restricted to a couple of free-kicks as their only chances of note.
At the other end Cardona juggled the ball brilliantly in the box, one way then the other, but his eventual shot was weak. Sebastian Perez was also denied by Guzan, with his low strike from distance well-fielded.