BRAZIL are one step closer to realising their dream of lifting the World Cup on home soil after a dramatic 2-1 victory over Colombia in Fortaleza last night.
Thiago Silva (7), Luiz (68)
Rodriguez (Pen 80)
Referee: C Velasco Carballo (Spain)
When David Luiz lashed in a sublime 40-yard free-kick to send the hosts 2-0 ahead with 22 minutes on the clock, doubling the priceless lead captain Thiago Silva had given them early in the game, it seemed Luiz Felipe Scolari’s team could start coasting towards a semi-final with Germany.
But such has been the nervous nature of Brazil’s journey in the competition so far, with this squad carrying the welter weight of the hopes of an expectant nation, it was never going to be that easy.
Colombia ensured a grandstand, tension-filled finish when they won a penalty ten minutes from time, tucked away by one of the stars of this ever-brilliant renewal of the World Cup - James Rodriguez, his sixth but final goal of the tournament.
The Brazil goal came under siege in the dying minutes as their South American rivals won corner after corner. But to the relief and joy of the vast majority of the 60,342 crowd inside the Estadio Casteloa, they held on and moved one giant step nearer towards to the World Cup final.
The only blots on Brazil’s copybook was the booking picked up by Thiago Silva, which rules him out of the clash against Germany in Belo Horizonte next Tuesday night. Brazil forward Neymar was then carried off on a stretcher in the closing stages.
The skipper played a key role in the Selecao’s progression in Fortaleza, though, defending resolutely after opening the scoring inside seven minutes.
It was a lead Brazil worked hard to extend and, having seen a Mario Yepes goal ruled out for offside, struck with aplomb midway through the second half, with Luiz sending home an outstanding 35-yard free-kick to send the nation into delirium.
The 22-year-old, so key to the Selecao, went to ground in agony during the closing stages after taking a knee to the back from Juan Zuniga, leaving the field in tears on a stretcher.
Brazil will be sweating on their star man’s fitness ahead of their semi-final.
l A new poll published yesterday makes it official: Fans feel that striker Fred is the worst player on Brazil’s World Cup squad.
The respected Datafolha polling group says that for 21 percent of the close to 3,000 people questioned, the Fluminense forward is the Brazilian team’s worst player. Nine percent said striker Hulk, and 6 percent said defender Dani Alves, who was removed from the starting lineup for Fridays’ quarterfinal against Colombia.
No surprise: For 56 percent of the respondents, striker Neymar is the team’s best player. Goalkeeper Julio Cesar is a distant second with 10 percent. Datafolha questioned 2,857 people, and the poll has a margin of error of two percentage points.
Brazil: Julio Cesar, Maicon, Thiago Silva, Luiz, Marcelo, Fernandinho, Paulinho (Hernanes 86), Oscar, Neymar (Henrique 88), Hulk (Ramires 83), Fred. Subs not used: Jefferson, Dani Alves, Dante, Maxwell, Willian, Bernard, Jo, Victor.
Colombia: Ospina, Zuniga, Zapata, Yepes, Armero, Guarin, Sanchez Moreno, Cuadrado (Quintero 80), Rodriguez, Ibarbo (Ramos 45), Gutierrez (Bacca 70). Subs not used: Vargas, Arias, Carbonero, Aguilar, Mejia, Balanta, Martinez, Valdes, Mondragon.