Greece endured a torrid start to their FIFA World Cup campaign as they slipped to a 3-0 defeat by a Colombia side full of vim and vigour.
With much of the crowd in Belo Horizonte sporting Colombian yellow, the South American side made a scintillating start and were ahead inside five minutes as Pablo Armero, a full-back, side-footed in. Greece regained their composure but always lacked the creative spark that allowed Teófilo Gutiérrez to double the advantage before the hour and James Rodríguez to complete Colombia's triumph at the death.
The early goal, perhaps, was the killer. James stepped over Juan Cuadrado's pass and Armero, on the penalty spot, tucked the ball just inside the post via a faint touch from Kostas Manolas. The onus was suddenly on Greece to make the running, and though Kostas Katsouranis and Panagiotis Kone wrested control of the midfield theirs were largely territorial gains, with chances at a premium.
Kone went closest right before the break, forcing an acrobatic stop from David Ospina that scored higher on artistic merit than technical necessity. At the other end, with the guile of James and their blistering pace on the break, Colombia posed a more genuine threat and on 58 minutes they were 2-0 up. Abel Aguilar got a deft touch to a James pass into the box, flicking it on for Gutiérrez to turn in from point-blank range.
Greece, who had failed to score in three of their previous four games, had it all to do. They could ill-afford the profligacy Fanis Gekas demonstrated as he contrived to stoop so low for a header that he directed it onto the bar; James showed how it is done in the dying seconds. Greece will need to find their range quickly, with Japan next up in Group C on Friday.