USA booked their place in the FIFA U-20 World Cup quarter-finals for the first time in eight years thanks to a Rubio Rubin strike and a fine Zack Steffen penalty save to help them past Colombia with a 1-0 win.
The Stars and Stripes were on the back foot for much of the game but Rubin's strike in the second half was enough to secure a spot in the last eight, though Jarlan Barrera's effort from the spot had to be kept out with ten minutes to go as it looked as if he might force extra-time.
The game began brightly, but was forced into a lengthy stoppage after Bradford Jamieson suffered an awkward fall. He left on a stretcher with a neck brace which saw USA's forward line deplete further, having lost Maki Tall to a broken foot in the opening game. After six minutes of inactivity, cooled muscles no doubt hindered the game's ability to get back up to speed.
Both sides struggled to break the other down and, once both were again in full flow, it ultimately was a first half that was full of energy but low on chances. Good work by substitute Jordan Allen crafted a chance for Paul Arriola, which he headed over, before Gedion Zelalem forced Alvaro Montero into a save and that was largely all it served up.
The best chance fell to Colombia just before the break as Steven Lucumi and Barrera combined to fire a ball across goal, but Santos Borre was denied a near-certain goal by the outstretched leg of Desevio Payne. This sight of goal may have buoyed them for their return.
The South Americans emerged with a greater air of invention amongst their ranks as Borre was sent clear inside 25 seconds of the restart, only to be smothered by keeper Steffen. The Freiburg stopper was called upon again after fabulous feet and vision from Alexis Zapata sent Lucumi away too, but his shot was charged down.
And before Los Cafeteros knew it, they were behind. An Arriola shot was charged down on the edge of the area and, with fortune in their favour, Rubin was on hand to fire a rocket into the roof of the net from 12 yards. It was a predatory finish that the Utrecht striker has made his trademark in New Zealand, and it seemed to knock some of the wind out of Colombia.
That is until the final ten minutes as the game looked set to lurch back in the direction of Carlos Alberto Restrepo's men. Kellyn Acosta hauled down Rodin Quinones to earn his second yellow and give Colombia a life-line. Steffen came to the rescue again though, diving to his right to keep out Barrera's effort. Deinner Quinones went close seconds later as Arriola had to head clear off the line, but it was enough to see them hold out.