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Soccer-Colombia beat Ivory Coast to close in on knockout phase


BRASILIA, June 19 (Reuters) - Colombia beat Ivory Coast 2-1 in yet another action-packed World Cup clash on Thursday to top Group C on six points and move within touching distance of making the knockout phase for the first time since 1990.

After a tight first half the game exploded into life with three goals in nine minutes midway through the second, starting when Colombia's James Rodriguez thumped in a header from a 64th-minute Juan Cuadrado corner.

Juan Quintero ran clear to make it 2-0 after 70 minutes after Rodriguez intercepted an Ivorian clearance but Gervinho cut in through three defenders to score an excellent individual goal three minutes later to halve the deficit.

Colombia held out, though, and top the standings with six points, ahead of Ivory Coast on three. Greece and Japan, who meet in Natal later on Thursday, are pointless after their opening game defeats. (Editing by Mitch Phillips, editing by Ossian Shine.)

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