FORTALEZA, Brazil – Brazil made their way into the World Cup semi-finals for the first time in 12 years, with goals coming from defenders Thiago Silva and David Luiz in a 2-1 win over Colombia, yesterday.
Brazil, which had been eliminated in the quarter-finals at the last two World Cups, will next play Germany on Tuesday in Belo Horizonte.
Silva gave Brazil the lead in the seventh minute, scoring with his left knee after a corner from Neymar passed through the Colombian defence. He celebrated the goal by pointing to the emblem on his jersey and shouting, “This is Brazil, this is Brazil.”
Luiz added the second from a free kick in the 69th, sending a swerving long-range shot off the side of his foot into the top of the net.
Colombia got one back in the 80th. James Rodriguez scored his tournament-leading sixth goal from the penalty spot after Brazil goalkeeper Julio Cesar brought down substitute Carlos Bacca inside the area.
Rodriguez tried to control the pace of the match at the Arena Castelao, but it was Brazil that created most of the scoring chances as Colombia goalkeeper David Ospina had to make a series of saves in the first half alone.
The Colombians tried to pressure in the end after Rodriguez’s penalty, but Brazil held on with tough defending.
“This is a very tough moment for us,” Colombia coach Jose Pekerman said. “We always had the dream of winning this match even though we knew Brazil would be a very tough opponent. We knew how decisive this was, and that any mistake would cost us.”
Colombia were coming off four straight wins, playing some of the most impressive football of the tournament.
And the Colombians, playing in the quarter-finals for the first time, had entered the match with an offensive team that had scored 11 goals, second only to the Netherlands.
“After not playing in the World Cup for so long, we were able to show the value of the Colombian football and the talent of some of our players,” said Pekerman, an Argentine. “They showed great spirit and presence of mind. They came to play a great World Cup, not just to participate.”
There was a lot of talk about Rodriguez and Neymar before the match, but the 22-year-old forwards didn’t really live up to expectations. Rodriguez scored the late penalty but was otherwise mostly ineffective, as was Neymar before he left on a stretcher after being hit on the back late in the match.
Brazil are trying to become the first host to win the World Cup since France in 1998.
At the last two World Cups, Brazil lost to the Netherlands in the quarter-finals in 2010 and to France in 2006. The team hadn’t made it to the semi-finals since they won their fifth world title in South Korea and Japan in 2002. (AP)