Jackson Martinez has showered praise on Colombian teammate James Rodriguez after the midfielder’s goal against Japan made him his country’s highest scorer in a World Cup finals tournament. Rodriguez has three goals at the tournament after his strike in the 4-1 win over Japan, that secured top spot in Group C and a match with Uruguay in the second round, on Saturday. The Monaco winger has stepped in on the scoring front in the absence of the injured striker Radamel Falcao, who has missed the tournament. Martinez said: “It’s impressive to see how James has improved. I knew him from FC Porto and I see that now in France he has matured so much. The talent he has is something that cannot be questioned. He is having a great tournament.”
The goalkeeper Claudio Bravo has signed a four-year deal to join Barcelona from Real Sociedad. Bravo, 31, has captained Chile, who are through to the second round in Brazil. He spent eight years at Sociedad and has started in all three of his country’s Group B matches. A Barcelona club statement said: “Claudio Bravo is noted for his calmness between the posts, his leadership skills, and lots of agility.” Barcelona’s former keeper, Victor Valdes, retired at the end of last season, 12 years after his first-team debut. The side moved to recruit Borussia Monchengladbach’s Marc-Andre ter Stegen during the summer transfer window, before acquiring Bravo.
Shinji Kagawa slammed Japan’s World Cup elimination as “pathetic” after Tuesday’s 4-1 thrashing by Colombia in their final group game. “It hurts to go out like this,” said the midfielder, who plays for Manchester United. “I don’t have any other words. I feel responsible and deeply sorry. It’s pathetic.” A three-goal blitz by Colombia in the second half ended Japan’s slender hopes of reaching the knockout stage in Brazil after a 2-1 defeat by Ivory Coast and a 0-0 draw with Greece. Keisuke Honda, who had declared defiantly that the Asian champions could win the World Cup, said: “It’s embarrassing. After I’d said Japan would win the tournament, in the end it finished with just empty talk … We simply weren’t good enough at this World Cup. We’ve still got a lot to learn. I’m extremely sorry.”
Spain internationals Koke and Juanfran have extended their contracts with Atletico Madrid until 2019 and 2018, respectively, the Primera Liga club said yesterday. Midfielder Koke, 22, who made two appearances in Spain’s failed campaign at the World Cup finals, and 29-year-old right back Juanfran last season helped Atletico win a first league title in 18 years and reach the final of the Uefa Champions League. “The two players are key parts of the club’s recent successes,” Atletico said on its website.
Sabri Lamouchi resigned as Ivory Coast coach minutes after his side’s hopes of reaching the World Cup second round were dashed by a late penalty giving Greece a 2-1 victory in Fortleza on Tuesday. The Frenchman said he had to draw the consequences of that failure to reach the last 16. “My contract comes to an end at this World Cup and there will be no epilogue and you can understand well as to why,” he said. “It is logical as we did not do well at last year’s Africa Cup of Nations or at the World Cup finals.”
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