Brazil advances to World Cup semifinals with a 2-1 defeat of Colombia

The match cannot end too soon for Brazil. Not only is Colombia rallying, but Neymar takes a knee in the back and is carted off on a stretcher in the 87th minute.

Fortunately for Coach Luiz Scolari, one substitute remains in his back pocket, and Neymar is replaced by an able body. Colombia has used all of its reserves, and the fresh legs are bringing life into the attack. Neymar would be sorely missed in an overtime period and, especially, a shootout.

But Brazil endures five agonizing minutes of added time, though not before Colombia aims a free kick into the box that is converged on by multiple players on each side. The ball bounces over the goal, and the final chance to tie goes awry.

Brazil advances to a semifinal against Germany with a 2-1 victory over Colombia.

Colombia's James Rodriguez finally gets loose and drives the ball into the box, then deals to teammate Carlos Bacca.

Brazil goalkeeper Julio Cesar ventures out from his post and brings Bacca down while closing in on the Colombian, resulting in a penalty kick. The young Rodriguez outguesses Cesar, who was shaken up by the contact, and tallies on the penalty kick to revive the Colombians in the 79th minute.

They nearly equalize moments thereafter, but Bacca's head-flick on a crossing pass barely misses.

An uneasy sequence in the 58th minute gives Brazil pause when Fred and Thiago Silva drop to the field with possible injuries. Both pop up soon after, and a choppy second half that can be blamed partly on excessive fouling resumes.

Spanish referee Velasco Carballo, who could not find his whistle in the opening half, is blowing it incessantly in an effort to rein in the rough stuff. Carballo's reluctance to issue a yellow card through two-thirds of the match compromises any efforts at deterrence.

The dumbest foul of all could have repercussions. Silva interferes with the Colombia keeper David Ospina on a goal kick and draws a yellow that would mean a suspension for the semifinals against Germany.

The yellows start to come out, one against Colombia's James Rodriguez on a tackle. A direct free kick by David Luiz from well outside the box confuses Ospina, and the keeper arrives late to a ball in the upper right corner, giving Brazil a 2-0 lead in the 68th minute.

First half

Brazil gets some relief from the enormous expectations that comes with being the favorite and host country on a quick strike in the seventh minute.

Neymar earns a corner kick when his nifty run down the left side ends with the ball knocked across the goal line. From the corner, he pops the cross above and over the mass of players in the center of the box. At the far post, Thiago Silva slips behind a distracted Colombian defender, cleans up the pass with an extended leg and nudges it into the net.

Colombia suddenly finds itself in a familiar and undesirable situation -- trailing in the tournament for the first time. 

Colombia keeper David Ospina has handed off goal-kick duties to a teammate, which suggests a mild injury. But Ospina looks fully fit with two bang-bang saves on close-range shots by Hulk and Fred in the 20th minute.

Ospina rebuffs Hulk again in the 27th minute as the Brazilians are fulfilling their reputation as executors of the "beautiful game."

Colombia shows some verve, too, but Brazil's attention paid to the versatile James Rodriguez contributes to keeping the underdogs off the board through the first half.

Brazil's one-goal lead is forged on ball possession (60%) and a rugged defense that spares goalkeeper Julio Cesar from requiring to make a single save.

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