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#WorldCupAtHome: Brazil loses Neymar en route to the semi-finals

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  • #WorldCupAtHome continues with Brazil-Colombia quarter-final from 2014
  • Clash saw Neymar pick up serious injury
  • David Luiz’s free-kick settled it for A Seleção

The 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ produced a thrilling quarter-final clash between Brazil and Colombia, from which Felipe Scolari’s charges emerged victorious to set up a last-four meeting with Germany. The game, however, was also tinged with sadness for A Seleção after their talisman Neymar suffered a back injury that brought his first World Cup appearance to a premature end.

Players of Brazil and Colombia line up© Getty Images

The summary

Brazil 2-1 Colombia

4 July 2014 | Estadio Castelao, Fortaleza

Goalscorers: Brazil (Thiago Silva 6’, David Luiz 68’) | Colombia (James Rodriguez 79’)

Line-ups: Brazil: Julio Cesar, Maicon, Thiago Silva (c), David Luiz, Marcelo, Fernandinho, Paulinho (Hernanes 85’), Hulk (Ramires 82’), Oscar, Neymar (Henrique 87’), Fred

Colombia: David Ospina, Juan Zuniga, Cristian Zapata, Mario Yepes (c), Pablo Armero, Juan Cuadrado, (Juan Quintero 79’), Fredy Guarin, Carlos Sanchez, Victor Ibarbo (Adrian Ramos 45’), Teofilo Gutierrez (Carlos Bacca 69’), James Rodriguez

The stakes

Brazil made the knockout stage having topped Group A thanks to two victories over Croatia and Cameroon and a draw against Mexico. The hosts, however, struggled in the Round of 16, where they needed penalties to see off Chile after extra time had ended 1-1. Victory set up a quarter-final meeting with a Colombia side against whom they have historically done well (15 wins, eight draws and two defeats).

Los Cafeteros, for their part, entered the quarter-final in high spirits, having won all three of their group games against Côte d’Ivoire, Greece and Japan. In the Round of 16, they then overcame Uruguay thanks to a brace from an in-form James Rodriguez.

 Neymar of Brazil is stretchered off the pitch © Getty Images

The story

Set-piece magic: With over 60,000 in attendance, the Estadio Castelao witnessed a breathtaking game that saw three goals from set-pieces. With just six minutes on the clock, the hosts’ captain Thiago Silva scored the opener when he bundled a corner kick over the line with his left knee. David Luiz netted his team’s second with a long-range free-kick before James Rodriguez pulled one back for Colombia from the spot.

Neymar’s shattered dream: With a few minutes left to play, Neymar suffered a severe injury after being kneed in the back by Colombia’s Juan Zuniga. The striker’s fractured vertebra ended his hopes of lifting the trophy on home soil and delivered a massive blow to Brazil’s campaign. Asked about his team-mate, forward Hulk said: “This is sad news that no one expected to hear. We’re happy we won the game, but we’re disappointed about Neymar. He prepared well for the tournament and was very excited. He helped us a lot.”

Brazilians console Colombia’s star: James Rodriguez announced his arrival on the world stage with a dazzling display at the FIFA U-20 World Cup Colombia 2011. Three years later, Brazil 2014 saw the Cucuta native score six goals to claim the adidas Golden Boot. After the final whistle, Rodriguez broke down in tears as his side’s elimination sunk in. He was then sportingly consoled by Dani Alves and David Luiz before Brazilian fans loudly applauded his fantastic performance.

The star

This game will remain engraved in David Luiz’s memory. The Brazilian defender claimed the Man of the Match award not only for his brilliant defensive display but also for a sumptuous free-kick that left Ospina clutching at thin air as it flew past him into the top right corner. In a wild celebration that has gone down in World Cup lore, Luiz raced to the corner flag before hurdling and kicking it. Speaking of that strike, Luiz said: “I’d been practicing it for a year with Willian at Chelsea so am happy to have scored today. It was beautiful to see the ball fly like that into the net, as that made it difficult for the keeper.”

David Luiz of Brazil celebrates scoring © Getty Images

What they said

“We hadn’t conceded many goals before that game, but we let one in very early. We improved in the second half as we started to move the ball more quickly and Brazil began to worry. While their second goal caught us off guard, we kept on fighting and came very close to levelling.”
Jose Pekerman, Colombia coach

“The team expended a lot of energy in the Chile game but recovered well, as you could see in the first half. If we’d scored a second goal then, it would have settled our nerves a bit more. We lost our focus because of their three strikers and James dropping into space. We fought hard, ran a lot and eventually won.”
Luiz Felipe Scolari, Brazil coach

“We secured a difficult win, which is normal at this stage of the tournament. We knew Colombia would give us a hard time given their fine performances here. The level out there was high, and it was a beautiful game.”
Ramires, Brazil midfielder

What happened next

After seeing off Colombia, the Canarinho locked horns with Germany at the Estadio Mineirao in Belo Horizonte in a match to forget for the hosts. Their 7-1 defeat ended a nation’s hopes of reclaiming the world title on home soil and still haunts Brazil to this day. They eventually came fourth after losing 3-0 to the Netherlands in the play-off for third-place. Colombia, for their part, registered their best finish at the World Cup. Four years later, at Russia 2018, they failed to repeat that feat when they crashed out in the Round of 16 against England.

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