Zapata, Muriel help Colombia overrun Venezuela

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Colombia scored three goals in the first half to beat Venezuela 3-0 and get their 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign off to an impressive start at home in Barranquilla.

Duvan Zapata and Luis Muriel both found the net for Colombia against the only side in South America never to have reached the World Cup finals and they showed why in a disastrous opening 45 minutes.

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Zapata put the home side 1-0 up after 16 minutes when he slid in and finished off a delicious low cross from Juan Cuadrado.

His Atalanta teammate Muriel made it two nine minutes later when he scored with a first-time shot from 10 meters out.

Muriel then got Colombia’s third just seconds before the whistle, when he completed a rapid counterattack.

Colombia took their foot off the pedal in the second half but Venezuela could make no impact and neither side added to the scoreline in a calmer second 45 minutes.

The top four teams in the 10-team South American group qualify automatically for the finals in Qatar in 2022 and the fifth-placed side will go into an inter-regional playoff.

Venezuela face Paraguay at home in their next game on Tuesday, while Colombia go to Santiago to play Chile the same day.