World Cup Blog: Brazil braced after Neymar blow
08:27 05 July 2014
Quarter-final: Brazil 2 Colombia 1
Brazil needed goals from central defenders Thiago Silva and David Luiz to see off Colombia and reach the semi-finals of the 2014 World Cup in an intriguing battle at Fortaleza.
But their victory was overshadowed by a back injury to poster boy Neymar, who has been ruled out of the rest of the competition.
The unimaginative performances of Luiz Felipe Scolari’s team to date meant going into this tie, many were hoping for a Colombia win and the final result was perhaps met with some disappointment by neutrals.
Brazil made a staggering 31 fouls according to Opta but whilst they again failed to hit the dizzy heights of last year’s Confederations Cup they no doubt deserved victory.
After another emotional performance of their national anthem, Brazil got off to a perfect start as skipper Silva scored from Neymar’s seventh-minute corner.
The goal only added to Brazil’s momentum and Hulk might have doubled their lead midway through the first period, but he fluffed his lines by shooting into the ground at the crucial moment.
That seemed to settle the Colombians, who suddenly appeared at home and started knocking the ball around with the slickness we have come accustomed to in this tournament.
A quick move involving the sensational James Rodriguez nearly got them back on terms, but Silva brilliantly cleared with just the final pass missing.
The Brazil captain was a rock throughout this frantic game and, with both sides attacking with extraordinary pace, it was down to he and Luiz to keep Selecao ahead before the break.
Paulinho and Fernandinho also played their part as the pair put in hard-working shifts to reward Scolari’s faith in them.
The hosts had ended the first half impressively but took a long time to get going in the second period and Colombia threatened on several occasions.
Mario Yepes had the ball in the net but it was ruled out for offside and minutes later that correct decision by the linesman seemed decisive.
Luiz lined up a free kick, around 30 yards out, and slotted it perfectly into the top corner to spark crazy, emotional celebrations from those inside and outside the stadium.
It was a sensational strike by the former Chelsea defender and a goal he richly deserved following another solid showing.
Brazil, however, weren’t home and dry just yet and a misplaced pass by Maicon, who was otherwise faultless in place of Dani Alves at right back, allowed Colombia possession and they took full advantage.
Rodriguez threaded an intricate pass through and Carlos Bacca beat Julio Cesar to the ball to win a penalty.
The QPR keeper received a yellow card, rather than red, due to the positioning of Luiz, but had to pick the ball out of the net after Rodriguez slotted his sixth goal of the tournament from the spot.
Scolari’s men were now preparing for a painstaking ten minutes plus possible extra time, but despite Colombia huffing and puffing they were unable to create a clear-cut opportunity until injury time.
The chance fell to Adrian Ramos, but he headed wide before heading over a tougher opportunity a minute later to ensure Brazil progressed to face the Germans on Tuesday evening.
Although the victory was an excellent one for Scolari, not least because the three decisions he made prior to the match paid off – Maicon, Fernandinho and Paulinho all delivering – there was a huge disappointment afterwards.
Brazil’s rock Silva is suspended for the Germany match while Neymar was ruled out of the World Cup after leaving the pitch on a stretcher.
So whilst Brazilians all over will be celebrating, you suspect Scolari will already be thinking about how he can now win on Tuesday.
The Brazil head coach took Selecao to their last World Cup semi-final and went on to deliver the title in 2002, however, it will take something sensational for him to achieve the same glory again. Good luck Big Phil!