MIAMI: Brazil captain Kaka led from the front, scoring both goals in his team’s 2-0 victory over Colombia in the quarter-finals of the CONCACAF Gold Cup on Saturday.
World champions Brazil, who are without several of their more experienced players at the tournament, could have recorded a more emphatic win as they clinched a semi-final showdown with the holders, the US, in Miami on Wednesday.
“We could have had a bigger result,” coach Ricardo Gomes told reporters.
Colombia were no match for their opponents and their coach, Francisco Maturana, said Brazil simply “played better and left us powerless at the end”.
Kaka’s first goal came in the 42nd minute when he surprised goalkeeper Farid Mondragon with the speed with which he converted a pass from Robinho.
The Brazil skipper followed up in the 66th minute with a powerful left-foot shot from outside the area that Mondragon could not get near.
Colombia were down to 10 men for the last eight minutes of the game after American referee Ken Stott sent off Julian Vasquez.
Gomes acknowledged that the game against the US would be difficult.
“They have a lot of tactical discipline, they have experienced players and they have the home-team advantage,” he said.
Earlier on Saturday, Landon Donovan struck four times as the US reached the semi-finals by thrashing 10-man Cuba 5-0 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.
Donovan scored twice in each half and Steve Ralston found the net in between to give the Americans an easy win over Cuba, who had Reizander Fernandez sent off just before halftime.
“Having three goals in the first half certainly made the second half a lot easier, especially with Cuba playing a man down,” US coach Bruce Arena told reporters.
“Clearly, Landon Donovan’s performance speaks for itself.”
“It was a very difficult game for us,” said Cuba coach Miguel Company. “We tried to play equal to the United States but they were far superior to us.”
In another quarter-final, a hat-trick by Walter Centeno helped Costa Rica earn a 5-2 victory over El Salvador and a semi-final showdown against either Mexico or Jamaica in Mexico City on Thursday.
Centeno opened his account in first-half injury time and converted two penalties in the second period.
The two Central American rivals treated a pro-Costa Rican crowd of 15,627 at Gillette Stadium to an open, attacking match.
Erick Scott tapped Costa Rica in front after goalkeeper Juan Gomez failed to hold a shot from Winston Parks in the 11th minute.
El Salvador equalised 23 minutes later, Gilberto Murgas scoring from the penalty spot after Mauricio Wright fouled Victor Velasquez. But Costa Rica hit back when Centeno slammed in a shot from the edge of the penalty area.
El Salvador struck again nine minutes into the second half when Alfredo Pacheco fired a left-footed free-kick into the top corner from 25m.
Costa Rica, though, went 3-2 up with a Centeno penalty after Ramon Sanchez brought down Wilmer Lopez in the 68th minute.
Four minutes later, Scott created the fourth goal for Steven Bryce. Centeno then rounded off the scoring with another penalty in injury time after Marvin Gonzalez pulled down Bryce.
“To score these goals was a great boost to my confidence,” Centeno told reporters. “After the opening loss (to Canada) it was great for us as a team to come back ... the team was much sharper today and we played more as a unit.” – Agencies