James Rodríguez has been one of the players of the World Cup so far, of that there is no doubt. His rating of 8.68 from WhoScored.com indicates as much, ranking fourth at the time of writing, and it was fitting that a player in such exceptional form should net a record-breaking goal.
The Colombian's simply sublime finish for his side's fourth goal in a 4-1 win over Japan was the 24th scored by a substitute at the tournament. It usurped the record of 23 scored by substitutes at any World Cup previous (set in 2006), and the group stages haven't yet come to a close.
With this being touted as the tournament of the Latin Americans - only Honduras have fallen thus far, with Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Uruguay and Mexico all assured of a place in the second round - the conditions are certainly proving problematic for some. In turn the heat and humidity can be cited as a key factor in so many substitutes coming on and having an impact against weary-legged opponents, with none doing so to more devastating effect than Rodríguez against Japan.
The European sides in particular have had to use their options from the bench wisely as a result of the temperatures at times, with some doing so more effectively than others. It's perhaps no coincidence that the three teams to have seen the most goals scored by substitutes are all from Europe - Switzerland, Netherlands and Belgium (all 3). In fact, in the case of the latter no starting player has netted in their two opening group games, with replacement players having ensured Marc Wilmots' side's progression to the round of 16.
It's certainly worth pointing out that games have rarely needed goals from the bench to set them alight given the glut of strikes in the tournament to date (109 at the time of writing). However, with 22% of the total thus far having been scored by substitutes, it's a noticeable trend. In the Premier League last season goals from substitutes accounted for just 12% of the overall tally in comparison (La Liga - 13%, Bundesliga - 11%, Ligue 1 - 11%, Serie A - 9%).
With changes clearly having a huge impact on the games at the tournament to this point, here's a quick rundown of the best substitute performances according to WhoScored.com's ratings.
1. James Rodríguez - 9.37 (Japan vs COLOMBIA)
Rested from the start of Colombia's final group game, James Rodríguez's introduction at half-time - with the scoreline at 1-1 - completely swung the game in the South Americans' favour. The Monaco playmaker's ability proved too hot to handle for a tiring Japan side and he ran riot. In 45 minutes of action the 22-year old created 4 chances for teammates - 2 of which set up goals for Jackson Martinez - and capped his performance with an outstanding dinked finish. His tally of 4 successful dribbles was the most by any player in the match.
2. Memphis Depay - 8.18 (Australia vs NETHERLANDS)
The only player to have scored more than once as a substitute at the World CUp so far, PSV livewire Memphis Depay has lived up to the hype when called upon on the biggest stage. It was his impact against Australia that proved to be crucial though, brought on at the break in a tactical reshuffle due to injury to Bruno Martins Indi. The Dutch were 2-1 down when Depay set up Robin van Persie's equalizer, before netting the winner himself. The 20-year old had more touches in the second half (38) than Van Persie (31) and Robben (34) managed in the entire game.
3. John Anthony Brooks - 8.05 (Ghana vs USA)
Another half time substitute and another match-winner. John Anthony Brooks came on at the interval as a straight replacement for the injured Matt Besler and scored the decisive goal, in the 86th minute, as the US secured a 2-1 victory over Ghana. The centre-back completed 90% of his pass attempts in the encounter and produced a last man tackle to keep the Africans at bay.
4. Marouane Fellaini - 7.88 (BELGIUM vs Algeria)
He may have had his fair share of critics last season but Marouane Fellaini's introduction certainly had the desired effect in Belgium's opener with Algeria. With a shock defeat on the cards, the midfielder came on with 25 minutes to play and added another dimension to Wilmot's side's play. The Red Devils began to get balls into the box and utilise the United man's aerial threat, with Fellaini levelling proceedings with a superb headed goal, before fellow substitute Mertens went on to secure a comeback win.
5. Andreas Samaris - 7.79 (GREECE vs Ivory Coast)
Greek midfielder Andreas Samaris had significantly more playing time to make an impact against Ivory Coast, coming on in the 12th minute to replace the injured Panagiotis Kone. The 25-year old gave his side the lead having stolen in to capitalise on a loose Cheik Tiote pass before playing a neat one-two with Samaras and slotting past the keeper. He also completed 90% of a team-high 41 pass attempts and produced 2 tackles as Fernando Santos' men booked a place in the next round courtesy of a dramatic, last-gasp penalty.
Which substitute performances have you been impressed with at the 2014 World Cup so far? Let us know in the comments below
All statistics courtesy of WhoScored.com where you can find more stats and player ratings.