Colombia were not helped by the decision-making of referee Carlos Velasco Carballo, tearful playmaker James Rodriguez said after their World Cup quarter-final defeat by Brazil on Friday.
“I’m crying because we gave everything. Unfortunately, the referee didn’t help much. Brazil is a good team but we gave everything so we are calm.
We wanted to carry on, but we hold our heads high. Thank you Colombia,” said Rodriguez, the tournament’s leading scorer with six goals.
“We fulfilled all the dreams we had … It’s a shame we have to go.”
Brazil, leading 2-0 after defender David Luiz’s stunning 69th minute free kick, appeared to be cruising into the semi-finals.
But Colombia, who have charmed the neutrals with their attacking football and carefree attitude, came roaring back and scored from the penalty spot after Brazil keeper Julio Cesar brought down Carlos Bacca.
Rodriguez took the responsibility for the spot kick, netting his sixth goal of the World Cup, but there will be no more at this tournament after Brazil clung on for a 2-1 victory.
Many observers felt Rodriguez was not given sufficient protection after he was fouled repeatedly, and questioned the Spanish referee’s decision to brandish a yellow card, not a red, at Cesar for the foul.
Veteran Colombia captain Mario Yepes also had a goal disallowed for offside in the 66th minute, and Rodriguez was shown a yellow card shortly afterwards.
‘THANK YOU COLOMBIA’
Rodriguez, the poster boy of the World Cup who has eclipsed even home favourite Neymar, was inconsolable after the game. But once he had calmed down, he paid tribute to the support back home.
“Thank you Colombia, because you always had faith,” he said. “Unfortunately we stop here, but we wanted to carry on. We’re sad but we also have to feel proud because we left our skin out there.”
Rodriguez became one of only 12 players to score in five consecutive World Cup matches, according to FIFA, and only two have made it six in a row.
Colombia coach Jose Pekerman said he had tried to comfort his inspirational midfielder after the game.
“I tried to calm him down, because personally he deserves huge congratulations. No doubt he will show it to us in the future.”