It’s so far so good for Chelsea’s representation in the quarter-finals of the World Cup with our Brazilian three joining Andre Schurrle in the semi-finals thanks to victory over Columbia in Fortaleza.
As with previous games for the host nation in this tournament, it wasn’t a comfortable victory in a game that began free-flowing and open but became fragmented and a little fractious as it progressed. Two set-piece goals were enough, with their fellow South Americans unable to turn their best spell into an equaliser having made it 2-1 late on.
Luiz Felipe Scolari made two changes, one enforced with Luiz Gustavo suspended, but Oscar remained an ever-present, doing much of his work on the Selecao’s right-hand side. Ramires was called off the bench in the second half but Willian remained an unused sub.
Just as in their previous game against Chile, Brazil took an early lead from a corner. Last Saturday it was David Luiz turning it in, this time his fellow central defender Thiago Silva swept in when Neymar’s delivery was allowed all the way through to the far post. There were only six minutes gone.
Columbia went close soon after, Juan Cuadrado having a shot deflected wide, but then it was all Brazil for a spell – Hulk having a 17th-minute shot saved when worked through behind the defence with Oscar’s follow-up held by the keeper.
Hulk had a much better strike saved 10 minutes later while Oscar most impressed in the first half by winning the ball in the Columbia half on several important occasions.
Brazil hadn’t made their pressure count and the final 10 minutes of the first half were punctuated by free-kicks. It was from one of those shortly before the interval that Neymar went quite close to finding the top corner.
In the second half David Luiz got his head on the end of a free-kick but was some way from hitting the target and although Brazil were succeeding in interrupting Columbia’s play, they were not looking like tearing them to bits either.
Thiago Silva was booked for impeding the Columbia keeper taking a kick. Although having little bearing on this match, it does mean Brazil will be without him for the semi-final, breaking up their regular central defence.
Columbia were denied an equaliser midway through the half by an offside flag but they didn’t have to wait much longer for a two-goal cushion. Columbia’s James Rodriguez was whistled up for a foul over 30 yards out and from the free-kick, David Luiz struck a peach into the top right-hand corner. The joy of our recently departed player and all of Brazil inside the stadium was there for all to see.
On 77 minutes the game changed, Carlos Bacca was felled by Julio Cesar after he had been played in behind David Luiz and James Rodriguez netted the penalty confidently. Buoyed by being back in the contest, Columbia were now making the running with the game stationed in Brazil’s half. It was no surprise when Scolari introduced Ramires’s energy for the final 10 minutes.
They successfully saw out the game with Oscar completing the full 90 minutes but to add to Brazil’s concerns with their captain already suspended for their semi-final with Germany on Tuesday, Neymar was carried off in pain shortly before the final whistle.