A stunning free kick from Brazil’s David Luiz sealed a 2-1 win over Colombia in a frantic World Cup quarter-final on Friday, taking the hosts into a semi-final against Germany and keeping them on track for a sixth world title.
Captain Thiago Silva bundled in Neymar’s corner at the back post to put Brazil ahead in the seventh minute before Luiz thundered home a dipping 30-metres free kick midway through the second half at the Castelao arena.
Colombia had a Mario Yepes effort ruled out for offside before in-form James Rodriguez dragged his side back into the match from the penalty spot with just over 10 minutes remaining, his sixth goal of the tournament.
That made for an uncomfortable finale for the Brazilians but they held on to reach the last four of the World Cup for the first time since 2002 and the 11th time overall.
Their hard-fought victory in a sometimes niggly Latin American clash also kept alive their remarkable record of having never lost a competitive home match since 1975.
But victory came at a price.
Thiago Silva was booked for a challenge on the Colombian goalkeeper and will miss the semi-final while Neymar was carried off late in the game and was taken to hospital with what appeared to be a serious injury.
“It was a great game, Colombia had an excellent World Cup, they played nice football and they deserve a lot of credit,” Luiz said before turning his attention to the Germans, who beat France in their quarter-final.
“It will be a big game – a classic in world terms, and it will be very hard,” he said.
After the drama of a penalty shootout win over Chile in the last 16, Brazil came out firing on all cylinders and dominated the first half.
Neymar was a constant threat on the left while the powerful running of Hulk kept the Colombian defence on the back foot.
Rodriguez came in for some rough treatment from Fernandinho but overall Brazil shackled the tournament’s top scorer well.
Brazil captain Thiago Silva savoured the opening goal, clutching the Brazil badge on his shirt and mouthing the words “this is Brazil” to the cameras, but rued the fact that he will miss the semi-final.
“I am emotional because I give the team my heart and soul,” he said in a televised interview. “I am out the next game but Dante and Henrique can play well and fill my absence.”