Colombia drew (2-2) in their match against Uruguay at the Metropolitano stadium in Barranquilla during the third round of the qualifiers for the 2026 World Cup.
A controversial penalty at the end of the match prevented the home team from securing victory, casting a shadow over what seemed to be a Colombian win with standout performances from James and Vargas.
James Rodríguez made a triumphant return in his homeland, putting Colombia ahead in the 36th minute, a lead they maintained until halftime. However, at the start of the second half, Mathías Oliveira’s header leveled the match. Matheus Uribe then restored the lead for Colombia in the 52nd minute, setting the stage for what appeared to be a certain victory for Néstor Lorenzo’s team.
Injury time brought a shocking turn of events as a controversial penalty, resulting in the expulsion of goalkeeper Camilo Vargas, was exploited by Darwin Núñez, ending the game in a 2-2 draw. While the result salvaged a crucial point for Uruguay, avoiding a second consecutive defeat, it left Colombia and their coach, Marcelo Bielsa, disappointed.
A First Half with No Clear Chances but Effective
The first half saw the Colombian national team’s attack lack attractiveness, marred by doubts and mistakes. However, Lorenzo’s team’s efficiency shone through when they managed to score at their first clear opportunity.
The early stages of the match presented an engaging contest, with both teams cautious in their attacks. Opportunities to score were intermittent. In the 8th minute, Uruguay had the first chance when a through ball pressured defenders Cuesta and Sanchez, and Camilo Vargas was forced to come off his line, earning the only yellow card of the match.
Fifteen minutes in, a lapse in the Uruguayan defense nearly resulted in an opening goal. Midfielder Matheus Uribe came close to putting Colombia ahead when his powerful shot struck the right post, narrowly missing the goal guarded by Santiago Mele of Junior de Barranquilla.
The pivotal moment came in the 36th minute when a pass from Santiago Arias was controlled by James Rodriguez, who fired a powerful left-footed strike past the visiting goalkeeper into the left post. It was 1-0, and that score remained until halftime.
Second Half: Local Dominance and Three Goals
The second half was largely dominated by Colombia, who had multiple opportunities to extend their lead. In the 63rd minute, they hit the post twice, first through James and then Jhon Arias. However, Uruguay managed to score first.
A breakdown in marking during an aerial play allowed Oliveira to equalize (1-1). This result was deserved and rewarded Bielsa’s team for their early second-half efforts.
The match had moments of confusion for the home team, but determination prevailed over uncertainty. Five minutes after the equalizer, a decisive run by Luis Díaz set up James, who delivered the ball to the center of the box. Matheus Uribe made a precise finish to put Colombia ahead again. It was 2-1.
These moments represented the peak of Colombian dominance and the most challenging moments for Uruguay, but Mele remained unbeaten. James Rodríguez began to display signs of fatigue, and Bielsa’s team also had their opportunities, saved by the local goalkeeper Vargas and a high shot by Araujo.
The Penalty That Prevented Victory
With the match seemingly headed for a Colombian victory, the 87th minute brought an unexpected twist. A ball served by the Uruguayans from the edge of their field reached Maximiliano Araujo, who broke the offside trap, outmuscling the Colombian defense and entering the penalty area. Mele rushed toward the Uruguayan player, colliding with him in the area.
As it was the second yellow card for Vargas, he was subsequently expelled. Controversy arose because it was unclear whether Vargas or the player initiated the contact. However, the referee deemed it a penalty due to the contact between the player and the goalkeeper in a clear goal-scoring situation, awarding a yellow card to the goalkeeper.
The substitute goalkeeper, Álvaro Montero, entered but couldn’t stop Darwin Núñez’s right-footed strike, which found the upper left corner of the home team’s net. The match concluded in a 2-2 draw, extending beyond the 90th minute and culminating in the final result.
While not a negative outcome, the feeling was bittersweet as victory slipped away at the last moment. The match ended in a 2-2 draw, leaving Colombia in third place on the qualifying table with 5 points, one more than Uruguay, who remained in fourth.
Colombia now looks forward to the fourth round, where they will face Ecuador in a match scheduled for Tuesday, October 17th, in Quito.