By Robbie Blakeley, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The Seleção are into the semi-finals of the FIFA World Cup for the first time since 2002 after a 2-1 win over Colombia at the Arena Castelão this afternoon (July 4th). A close-range finish from Thiago Silva and a thunderbolt of a free-kick from David Luiz put Brazil two goals ahead before James Rodriguez pulled one back for Colombia from the penalty spot.
It was not all good news for Brazil however. Captain Thiago Silva will miss the semi-final against Germany on Tuesday through suspension after picking up a second yellow card, and towards the end of the match Neymar had to be carried off on a stretcher following a knee to the back from Zuniga.
Brazil made the perfect start, taking the lead after only seven minutes. Neymar whipped in a corner and Silva managed to steal around the back of the Colombian defense unheeded to deflect the ball into the net with his knee.
Oscar and Neymar found ample space during the first half in which to work and the hosts had chances to extend their lead. Hulk, starting out on the left, was guilty of profligacy in front of goal, with Brazil only going in one goal to the good at the half-time interval.
The second half was played on a more even keel, as influential playmaker James Rodriguez strived to pull Colombia level. Yet Silva and Luiz were resolute at the back and it must be a worry for coach Luiz Felipe Scolari that their reliable defensive partnership cannot be used in the semi-final.
Colombia had the ball in the goal on 66 minutes through Mario Yepes but his effort was ruled out for offside. Two minutes later, Brazil were 2-0 up and out of sight. Lining up a free-kick, David Luiz struck a blistering effort into the top right-hand corner. Relief for the Brazilians in the crowd as well as those on the pitch.
Still the drama was not over. Ten minutes from time Júlio César brought down Rodriguez in the area and the referee awarded a penalty. Rodriguez himself converted the spot-kick but there was to be no comeback. Scolari’s Seleção revolution continues.
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