Brazil hung on by its fingernails in the final 10 minutes of the match and advanced to the World Cup semifinals, edging Colombia 2-1 in Fortaleza on Friday. But the hosts lost their star, as Neymar is out of the tournament with a fractured back.
Captain Thiago Silva scored early in the match and David Luiz gave Brazil a 2-0 lead with a rocket of a free kick in the 69th minute.
Leading scorer James Rodríguez brought Colombia within one when he scored on a penalty kick in the 80th minute but the Colombians couldn’t tie it.
Brazil suffered a massive blow with Neymar's loss. The striker was fouled clumsily by Juan Camilo Zuniga in the final moments of the match and writhed in pain on the pitch. In tears, he was carried off on a stretcher and taken to hospital. Less than two hours later, doctors confirmed he suffered a fractured vertebra, and will miss the rest of the World Cup.
A match this compelling needed a magnificent goal as its winner, and David Luiz provided that moment. It was one of the goals of the tournament for the Brazil defender, who scored on a rocket off a free kick.
Man of the match
David Luiz. He scored the winner and was an absolute bull on defence.
Brazil’s win was its 70th World Cup victory, most of any country.
It was a good day for…
Listening to your conscience. James Rodriguez did. Or, maybe that’s just a giant, horrifying bug on his shoulder that he is unaware of. Either way, enjoy your nightmares tonight.
It was a bad day for…
Leading lights. Brazil’s tactics against James Rodriguez were clear for anyone to see, and seemed to consist of “kick-him-every-time-he-has-the-ball-and-don’t-stop-ever.” But Neymar got it worse. Much, much worse.
What this means
The face of the tournament, and Brazil's talisman, is out, suffering a terrible injury in the process. With him may have went Brazil's chances at a sixth World Cup. It can't be emphasized enough how big a blow losing Neymar is for the Brazilians. The entire offence flowed through the 22-year-old star. His teammates, likely reeling, will need to play the game of their lives against Germany in the semis on Tuesday (CBC TV, cbc.ca/fifaworldcup, 4 p.m. ET) to make it to the final. Compounding matters is the fact that Brazil will also be without its captain, Thiago Silva, due to suspension.
The best showing at a World Cup for the South Americans, and Colombia has a bona fide superstar in Rodriguez. Don’t be surprised if this entertaining side returns to the pantheon of South American football for the first time since the early 1990s.