Real Madrid star James Rodriguez shrugged off his obscene gesture controversy with a match-winning display as Colombia beat Ecuador 2-0 to edge closer to the 2018 World Cup on Tuesday.
James leads his country amid outrage
Rodriguez, the golden boy of Colombian football, had ignited a firestorm of outrage after he was photographed giving the middle finger to journalists outside the team's training ground on Friday. The gesture was widely criticized across social media in Colombia, where the baby-faced attacking midfielder is an idol.
However Rodriguez showed no sign of being hampered by the controversy on Tuesday as Colombia secured a crucial 2-0 win in Quito. He opened the scoring after 20 minutes, when he bundled in a superb cross from Carlos Bacca to give Colombia a crucial 1-0 lead.
Rodriguez then turned provider for Colombia's second goal, latching onto a clever lofted pass by Edwin Cardona before squaring for Juventus star Juan Cuadrado to score.
Colombia edge closer to Russia 2018
It was the second time in as many games Rodriguez had proved crucial in a Colombia victory following his decisive penalty against Bolivia last week.
Tuesday's win lifted the Colombians into second place in South America's qualifying standings with 24 points from 14 games.