A victory over the Africans in their final first-round match in Samara on Thursday would secure Colombia a spot in the last 16 as they target at least matching their charge to the quarter-finals in Brazil four years ago.
After Colombia and Poland lost opening matches to Japan and Senegal, respectively, Sunday's match was a must-win - a draw wouldn't have done much for either side.
Fast forward to the present day in Russian Federation and Rodriguez is still thriving in the showpiece, producing a masterclass, Man of the Match performance in his first game of he tournament as Colombia knocked Poland out courtesy of a 3-0 win in Group H. Poland is the first European team to be knocked out of Russian Federation 2018.
The South Americans bounced back from their shock 2-1 defeat to Japan with a stunning 3-0 victory over Poland.
Juan Cuadrado then made it three goals. Because, with Radamel Falcao working hard at the head of their side and the majestic James Rodriguez and Juan Quintero firing in tandem, this Colombia team could yet go a long way.
The best was still yet to come though, with James delivering the most wonderful of passes from the left wing to find Cuadrado in time and space.
Yerry Mina gave Colombia the lead in the 40th minute.
Nawalka replaced Dawid Kownacki with the more experienced Kamil Grosicki and the switch nearly paid dividends.
A ball over the top fell to Robert Lewandowski but David Ospina saved with his body to deny the Bayern Munich man.
Poland threatened again, but when Lewandowski got his head to a cross into the area he was marked by both Mina and Davinson Sanchez.
The win means Colombia is still alive and Poland is eliminated.
Five minutes later, Rodriguez produced arguably the assist of the night, drawing several Polish players on the left flank before somehow finding Cuadrado on the run with a superb cross-field pass that the pacey winger tucked away.