Goalscoring sensation Hugo Rodallega finally got off the mark at the FIFA World Youth Championship Netherlands 2005 as he got his first of the tournament and Radamel Garcia his second to give Colombia their third 2:0 victory in a row and a date with Argentina in the knock-out phase.

For Syria, defeat did not come at too high a price as their four points from previous matches and Italy's defeat of Canada in Kerkrade means they finish as runners-up in Group E and they will stay in Tilburg for the second round next week.

Colombia coach Eduardo Lara targeted restoring the confidence of Rodallega as one of his priorities and he was delighted to see him score on his return to the team after being left out from the start against Canada.

Lara said: "I'm very happy Rodallega got one and I hope he can keep scoring now. Argentina will be a very difficult opponent. I know the coach well and I have a lot of respect for them, but at least this means one South American team is guaranteed to be in the quarter-finals."

Before the match, Syria coach Milosav Radenovic said he hoped his players would have more room to express themselves creatively against Colombia, but they almost the whole game chasing shadows in the sizzling Tilburg sunshine.

With the temperature rising, Colombia turned up the heat on Syria straight from the kick-off and showed their determination to finish the group with maximum points, but as with previous matches, they had to be patient and try to break down the defensive barrier obstructing them.

Fredy Guarin, who earned his starting place after coming on as a sub to score against Italy and Canada, was the first to thump in one of 12 unanswered shots in the opening period, but he just failed to hit the target.

Juan Zuniga was causing Syria all manner of difficulties down the right-hand flank with his trickery and when he was brought down just outside the box, Mauricio Casierra steppd up to take the free-kick and crashed his left-footed effort against the crossbar.

Colombia's Harrison Otalvaro looked goal-hungry too, bringing Syrian 'keeper Moustafa Shakosh to full stretch on his Netherlands 2005 debut as he palmed the ball away to his left before Otalvaro created an even greater opening for himself, but shot wide when he should have found the target.

Aatef Jenyat made a rare attacking foray for Syria after the break when he made an interception on the halfway line and sprinted into space, but after bearing down on goal he lost his bearings and put his strike harmlessly past the post.

The breakthrough finally came after an hour, which by previous Colombian standards, was a touch early. Zuniga floated in a hanging cross and Rodallega made a terrific vertical leap to get his head to the ball first and beat Shakosh at last (1:0, 62').

Shakosh was equal to Rodallega's curling free-kick soon afterwards though Colombia were shooting on sight by this stage and any Syrian getting in the way was liable to end up in danger of serious injury, as Mahmoud Ossi found to his agonising cost.

Intricate footwork and delicate passing around the edge of the penalty area had Colombia almost constantly camped in the Syrian danger zone and Radamel Garcia finally broke their resistance with the second goal in added time, making the most of the space he was afforded before crashing the ball past a helpess Shakosh (2:0, 91').

A philosophical Syria coach Radenovic said: "We were up against one of the best teams in the tournament and we have to play wherever the ball is. Unfortuntaley, it was always in our half of the pitch."