Brazil's national soccer team is rightfully renowned for its style. But it earned a spot in the semifinals of the 2014 World Cup due to its grit.
With a yellow-clad crowd behind them, Brazil held off Colombia 2-1 in a physical quarterfinal clash at Estadio Castelao in Fortaleza on Friday. A pair of Brazil defenders -- Thiago Silva and David Luiz -- contributed the first goals of the match before Colombia's James Rodriguez pulled one back from the penalty spot to ensure the drama lasted until the final whistle. The victory sends the hosts into a high-profile semifinal with Germany.
After needing penalties to escape Chile in the Round of 16, Brazil seemed on course for a smoother victory against Colombia. In the seventh minute, Silva, wearing the captain's armband, scored after a corner kick by Neymar.
Silva's goal would be the only one in the first half as Brazil took a slim 1-0 advantage into the intermission. In the 69th minute, Luiz doubled the advantage with a swerving free kick from 30 yards that eluded Colombia goalkeeper David Ospina.
With Brazil seemingly on track for a date in the semifinals with Germany, Rodriguez scored his sixth goal in the World Cup from the penalty spot. In the 77th minute, Brazil goalkeeper Julio Cesar conceded a penalty by taking down Colombia forward Carlos Bacca. Rodriguez, the breakout star of the World Cup and a leading contender for the Golden Boot as the tournament's high scorer, calmly converted.
Just minutes before the final whistle sounded on Brazil's 2-1 win, Neymar suffered an apparent back injury that could keep him out of the semifinals. In the 87th minute, Colombia's Juan Camilo Zuniga drove his right knee into Neymar's lower back. The 22-year-old forward was soon loaded onto a stretcher and taken off the field.
Amid reports that Neymar had been taken to a local hospital for examination, Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari conceded that his No. 10 may not able to play against Germany on Tuesday, July 8.
"It will be very difficult for Neymar to play," Scolari told reporters, via The Associated Press.
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