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Colombia tops World Cup group by beating Japan 4-1

06/24/2014, 6:01pm EDT

Colombia's Juan Cuadrado scores the opening goal from the penalty spot during the group C World Cup soccer match between Japan and Colombia. ASSOCIATED PRESS

CUIABA, Brazil — Substitute James Rodriguez scored a brilliant goal and set up two more for Jackson Martinez as Colombia beat Japan 4-1 on Tuesday to confirm top spot in Group C and eliminate the Asian champions from the World Cup.

Already assured of advancing, Colombia guaranteed first place with its third straight win, setting up a second-round match against Uruguay.

The Colombians started with a virtual second-string lineup but still went in front when Juan Cuadrado — one of the few regular starters — drilled in a 17th-minute penalty.

Japan equalized with the last touch of the first half through Shinji Okazaki’s header but Martinez scored in the 55th and 82nd minutes — both from superb passes from Rodriguez — to put the result beyond doubt.

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