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The cruel battle of Fortaleza

Germany
05.07.2014
By our dpa-correspondent    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Brazil defeat Colombia 2-1 to set up clash against Germany
Defenders Thiago Silva and David Luiz were both on target Friday in Fortaleza, where Brazil defeated Colombia 2-1 to book a place against Germany in the World Cup's semi-finals.
GALLERY
Fortaleza, Brazil (dpa) - James Rodriguez pulled one back for Colombia with a penalty kick to extend his lead at the top of the goal-scorers" standings on six.
Neymar of Brazil is taken from the pitch on a stretcher after picking up an injury during the FIFA World Cup 2014 quarter final match soccer between Brazil and Colombia at the Estadio Castelao in Fortaleza, Brazil, 04 July 2014.


But the hosts" victory came at a price: Thiago Silva was shown a second yellow card in the tournament and will now be automatically suspended for Tuesday"s game in Belo Horizonte, while Neymar was stretchered off after receiving a nasty challenge from behind in the final minutes.

And despite the victory, Brazil once again showed they are short of ideas without the inspiration of their talismanic number 10.

A boisterous sea of 60,000 yellow jerseys filled the Estadio Castelao stadium, with only a sprinkle of red distinguishing Colombia"s fans from their fellow South Americans.
Brazils coach Luiz Felipe Scolari.

With temperatures of 29 Celsius and hardly a breeze for comfort, the overwhelmingly Brazilian crowd made their preferences clear when the teams came on the pitch, jeering forwards Hulk and Fred - who have yet to score at this World Cup - and reserving ovations for penalty shoot-out hero Julio Cesar and home favourite Neymar.

Brazilian coach Luis Felipe Scolari, meanwhile, replaced suspended midfielder Luis Gustavo with Fernandinho and fielded Maicon as right-back, instead of the at times ineffective Dani Alves.

Colombia had only won two of their 25 previous encounters with La Selecao, scoring 11 compared with Brazil"s 55 in the process.

But Jose Pekerman, who had anticipated an "even match" in Fortaleza, showed little deference for the hosts with his team selection, adding Victor Ibarbo on the left, with the Cagliari forward ready to support James Rodriguez and Teofilo Gutierrez up front. The move, however, must have left Pekerman unconvinced, since Ibarbo was replaced by Adrian Ramos just after the break.

Colombia appeared timorous once the game got underway, rarely venturing forward and soon giving Brazil a dream start.

Just seven minutes had passed when Neymar sent a corner kick over the entire Colombian area, without anyone intervening, until it landed on the unmarked Thiago Silva, who used his knee to send the ball in from short range.

Los Cafeteros continued to look a shadow of the side that easily rid itself of Uruguay in the round of 16, continuously making reckless mistakes in defence. In the 16th minute, for instance, a festival of defensive errors almost led to Brazil"s second. Minutes later, a good Neymar-Hulk combination put the forward in front of goal, but his short-range finish was saved by David Ospina.
Brazilian fans.

The red jerseys may not have been playing well, but they were always dangerous on the break, such as in the 22nd minute, when James led a quick counter-attack, passed the ball to Cuadrado on the right, only for the winger to squander the chance from good position.

The first half continued in a frenetic and scrappy, but ultimately chaotic and sloppy tone, with James and Neymar both failing to convert free-kicks from good positions and the two sides amassing a total of 26 fouls.

The second half continued much along the same lines, with the referee blowing his whistle more often than not, and neither side appearing to have many ideas on how to break down their opponents.

Predictably, Colombia were the ones showing more initiative, with Brazil ready to kick the ball away and let the clock tick.

There was some bad news for Brazil in the 64th minute, when Thiago Silva was booked for a challenge on Ospina. This being the captain"s second yellow card of the tournament, he will miss the semi-final.

However, the gods were smiling again on La Selecao during the next couple of minutes: First, a Colombian goal from a scramble in the area was disallowed due to an offside decision.

And two minutes later, in the 68th, David Luiz sent the home crowd into ecstasy by driving in a fantastic free kick from long range for Brazil"s second.

Colombia piled on the pressure and pulled one back in the 80th, when James converted a penalty, but Brazil held on to the lead despite Los Cafeteros piling on the pressure.

Brazil"s team doctors will now have to assess the conditions of Neymar, who was taken off on a stretcher after receiving a knee in the back from Juan Zuniga.

 

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