Brazil win ugly as Neymar ruled out of World Cup
Playmaker suffers broken vertebra, with Thiago Silva also ruled out of Germany semi-final through suspension
Brazil’s David Luiz scores his side’s second goal from a free-kick against Colombia during the World Cup quarter-final at the Arena Castelao in Fortaleza. Photograph: Tolga Bozoglu/EPA
David Luiz celebrates after scoring his side’s second goal from a free-kick against Colombia during the World Cup quarter-final at the Arena Castelao in Fortaleza. Photograph: Sergey Dolzhenko/EPA
Brazil captain Thiago Silva celebrates after scoring against Colombia during the World Cup quarter-final at the Arena Castelao in Fortaleza. Photograph: Marcelo Del Pozo/Reuters
With 10 minutes left James Rodriguez scored his sixth goal of the tournament from the penalty spot after Julio Cesar had taken down substitute Carlos Bacca, and so the end of the game was played out in a cauldron of nervousness, as Colombia attacked freely and Brazil were knocked back on their heels. Juan Cuadrado and Adrian Ramos came close with headers, but Brazil’s two goals had been enough.
It took Carballo more than an hour to book a player, and by that stage, after a highly promising and open first half, the game had become nasty and fractious from repeated fouling. That pattern suited Brazil far better, their muscularity effectively neutralising Colombia’s creative talents. The irony in the end, of course, was that in the most physical part of the contest it was Neymar who suffered most.
Although he got on the scoresheet, it was a difficult night for Rodriguez, who was repeatedly fouled and then had the indignity of being booked after giving away the 68th-minute free kick from which David Luiz gave Brazil the two-goal advantage. It was Rodriguez’s tears, rather than Brazil’s for a change, that told a story at full-time, and it was a touching sight to see Luiz and his team-mates console the youngster on the pitch.
The quirkiest statistic going around – and also a telling one – was that the last time Colombia beat Brazil, 23 years ago, Rodriguez was one day old. José Pekerman has been widely praised for giving this generation confidence – even reminding them to “have fun”, Juan Zuniga had suggested – and Colombia’s sense of wellbeing had been enhanced by just one defeat in 16 matches.
Nonetheless, this was their first World Cup quarter-final appearance, against the hosts, who they had only beaten twice in their history. And the crowd in Fortaleza was manic, starting with an incredible noise in the warm-up by Brazil’s goalkeepers a full 50 minutes before kick-off, and featuring some pantomime booing at the mention of Rodriguez.
All told, the last thing Colombia needed was to give the home side the momentum of an early lead. And quite a soft one it was too. A quick Fernandinho pass forward left Cristian Zapata exposed one-on-one with Neymar, and the goal came from the corner he was forced to concede. Neymar whipped it in, the ball just missed the top of Luiz’s head, but Thiago Silva was running in at the back post to steer it home.