Finally starting, Johan Venegas ignites Costa Rica's Copa upset of Colombia

Johan Venegas - Costa Rica - Copa America Centenario - Shoots golazo vs Colombia

HOUSTON—For most of this season with the Montreal Impact, and the first two games of Costa Rica’s Copa America Centenario run, Johan Venegas has been forced to make his impressions off the bench.

That may change after Saturday.

Starting in Joel Campbell’s place, Venegas scored a sensational 22-yard strike early and struck a vicous cross that created another goal in a 3-2 morale-boosting victory over Colombia to end Los Ticos’ campaign.

And after breaking into the national team fold at the relatively late age of 25, the now 27-year-old could be capable of even more, says teammate Celso Borges.

“I know he has a long process to go, but on the path he is in right now, he is going to do well,” said Borges, who himself scored later after his long diagonal early set up Venegas. “He’s a hard worker. When things work out for those guys, you feel glad. You feel happy for them. And I think he should enjoy.”

That work ethic was on display throughout the match, as Venegas seemed to buzz everywhere around the pitch.

Although Costa Rica’s posture changed late to try and preserve their victory, he nearly added another goal in the 75th minute when he flashed a header just wide of the left post.

“Venegas really made our life tough,” said Colombia manager Jose Pekerman.

Venegas has appeared nine times this season for the Impact, six as a substitute, and has yet to score in the current campaign after joining the club in the middle of 2015.

Even so, Vancouver Whitecaps and Costa Rica center back Kendall Waston believes Venegas’ move to the MLS has helped round out his overall game.

“It’s another type of game (than) we are used to playing in Costa Rica,” Waston said. “So I think he being surrounded by top players like Didier Drogba, obviously he’s going to take something for himself and improve.”

Said Venegas, through an interpreter: “Having leaders as teammates, you learn the smallest details. How you’re supposed to move, How you should shoot, how you can score … And the most important thing is to apply them on the field. And that’s how one grows as a player.”