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Colombia’s midfield magician Juan Quintero a throwback to bygone era

The languid style of the playmaker has become all but extinct at the highest level but is working well in Russia

Amid the blaze of emotion of Colombia’s must-win match against Poland the manager, José Pekerman, lost his head. Juan Fernando Quintero had just slipped a perfectly weighted pass into the path of Radamel Falcao to score his first World Cup goal with a clipped outside-of-the-boot finish. Two-nil to Colombia and victory was in sight. As the weight of pressure subsided, the normally reticent Argentinian coach erupted in elation on the touchline. “Juan! Juan! Genius! Genius! You’re a genius!” Pekerman bawled as his grinning 25-year-old star basked in the praise.

Against Japan in their first match Quintero had scored Colombia’s first free-kick goal in seven years with a clever low drive and been his country’s main attacking threat. But against Poland that level shifted up a gear. Tasked with picking the holes in Poland’s back three from the centre of Colombia’s attacking trident that included James Rodríguez shunted out on the left, the diminutive midfielder’s sumptuous vision and exquisite technique turned the game. Like Paul Gascoigne in his pomp, Quintero wriggled reverse passes and through-balls into gaps that brought gasps and applause from even the Polish press section. “What we would give for a player like Quintero to feed Robert Lewandowski,” one Polish journalist said.

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