• Brazil 2-1 Colombia

Luiz fires Brazil into the last four

ESPN staff
July 4, 2014
David Luiz lets fly from 35-yards © Getty Images

A stunning free-kick from David Luiz blasted Brazil into the the last four of the World Cup as the hosts overcame Colombia 2-1 in a breathless quarter-final tie in Fortaleza.

The former Chelsea defender, who joined Paris Saint-Germain for £50 million before the tournament started, found the top corner of David Ospina's goal from fully 35-yards on 68 minutes for what turned out to be the winner.

The goal put Brazil two ahead after Luiz's fellow centre-back Thiago Silva had bundled the ball in at the far post from Neymar's corner with just seven minutes on the clock, but a James Rodriguez penalty with 10 minutes remaining ensured a tense finish.

But one of the main talking points will be Neymar's fitness.

The 22-year-old, so key to Brazil, went to ground in agony during the closing stages after taking a knee to the back from Juan Zuniga, leaving the field in tears on a stretcher.

Safe to say he enjoyed it © Getty Images

Brazil will be sweating on their star man's fitness ahead of their semi-final against Germany, which captain Thiago Silva will definitely miss after incurring a suspension for his booking at the Estadio Castelao.

The skipper played a key role in Brazil's progression in Fortaleza, though, defending resolutely after opening the scoring inside seven minutes.

It was a lead Brazil worked hard to extend and, having seen a Mario Yepes goal ruled out for offside, they struck with aplomb midway through the second half when Luiz sent home his outstanding free kick.

Rodriguez, the competition's top scorer, added to his haul with a penalty but Brazil rode out a nervy final 10 minutes to progress.

The players were welcomed onto the field by a sea of yellow, and perhaps intimidated by that atmosphere, Colombia were sluggish out of the blocks and Neymar looked to capitalise, scooping a 30-yard free kick wide.

Brazil's star man continued to prove an early nuisance, forcing a corner off Cristian Zapata. Neymar swung the ball over from the left and, with Luiz just unable to reach the ball, it fell to Silva at the back post to bundle home. Carlos Sanchez was guilty of losing the Brazil captain.

Silva's main job, though, is at the back and he soon proved his worth there, getting the slightest deflection on a fierce Juan Cuadrado shot to take it wide - Colombia's only chance of note in a poor opening 20 minutes.

Brazil were in the ascendancy and Ospina had to be alert to deny two shots in quick succession, parrying a Hulk effort into the path and then denying Oscar's follow-up from the edge of the box.

However, Scolari's men were always capable of being exposed at the back and almost paid for when Rodriguez led a Colombia break, which only broke down with Cuadrado's final pass.

It was Brazil bossing the play, though, and Hulk wriggled free to force another save from Ospina, before centre-back Luiz went on a typically unorthodox run, Fernandinho glanced wide and Hulk blazed over.

Colombia improved towards the end of the first half but wasted their best chance, albeit Neymar was clearly not far back when blocking Victor Ibarbo's effort from a free kick - one of several decisions that angered them.

Rodriguez's rough treatment was the main issue and the attacker rose to his feet seething when Fernandinho clattered him just before the break, with the players making referee Carlos Velasco Carballo aware of their frustrations as they trudged off at half-time.

Perhaps with those words still ringing in his ears, the Spaniard awarded Rodriguez two free kicks within minutes of a second half in which Jose Pekerman's side began brightly, albeit without creating any chances of note.

A series of fouls meant the match had none of its earlier verve, with Carballo eventually dishing out a yellow card with the 40th free kick of the evening. That card was handed to Silva for charging down Ospina, with the 64th-minute booking meaning he will miss Brazil's semifinal.

Rodriguez's free kick then caused a penalty-box melee, with Yepes lashing home after the ball fell kindly to the veteran -- only for his celebrations to be cut short by the offside flag.

Rodriguez was cautioned for taking down Hulk 35 yards from goal soon after. Luiz made light work of that distance, though, hitting an incredible right-footed strike which dipped just under the crossbar and out of the reach of Ospina to double Brazil's lead in style.

The Paris Saint-Germain defender ran away in frantic celebration but the job was not done and, having seen Neymar curl wide at the other end, Colombia won a penalty when Rodriguez sent a wonderful ball through to substitute Carlos Bacca, who was taken out by the onrushing Julio Cesar.

The Brazil goalkeeper was fortunate only to receive a yellow card and was unable to replicate his heroics from the shootout against Chile, with Rodriguez sending him the wrong way.

It made for a tense ending, with Brazilian nerves further frayed when Neymar was forced off with injury after a poor challenge from Juan Zuniga, but Scolari's side held on to secure a semi-final date with Germany, who beat France earlier in the day, in Belo Horizonte on Tuesday.

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James Rodriguez scored his sixth goal in six World Cup games for Colombia © Getty Images
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