Neymar sent off as Colombia beats Brazil 1-0 in Copa America
SANTIAGO, Chile — Taking advantage of a bad night by Neymar, Colombia defeated Brazil 1-0 in the Copa America on Wednesday, keeping its quarterfinal hopes alive in the South American tournament.
Jeison Murillo scored a 36th-minute winner, and Neymar’s poor performance was capped by a red card after the final whistle because of an altercation with Colombian players.
Colombia’s Carlos Bacca, who shoved Neymar from behind, also was shown a red card. Bacca apparently was upset after the Brazilian seemed to head-butt teammate Murillo during a discussion.
Neymar’s yellow card earlier in the match was his second of the tournament, which was already enough to suspend him from the final group match.
Brazil could have secured a spot in the quarterfinals with a win over Colombia, but now it will decide its future against Venezuela on Sunday.
“Colombia showed that it is a very experienced team,” Brazil coach Dunga said. “Our players at times got caught in their provocations and forgot to play football. Brazil has to play football. Brazil can’t go to war, we have to focus on what we do best, which is play football.”
The result ended Colombia’s 24-year winless drought against the five-time world champion, and left Colombia, Brazil and Venezuela tied atop Group C with three points each. Venezuela and Peru, however, have a game in hand; they will play their second group match on Thursday.
If Peru beats Venezuela, all four teams will enter the final round with three points each. The top two teams in each of the three groups advance, plus the two-best third-place finishers. A loss on Wednesday would have left Colombia with zero points and in difficult position to advance.
“Colombia showed that it’s a team that has matured, that can play these types of matches,” Colombia coach Jose Pekerman said. “We couldn’t slip up today, we needed an almost-perfect match in all areas.”
With Neymar struggling, Brazil had difficulties getting near the goal and it was Colombia — led by James Rodriguez and Falcao Garcia — that created the most dangerous chances.
Murillo netted the winner off a free kick cross into Brazil’s area. He got to the loose ball near the penalty spot and fired a low shot through the legs of Brazil defender Thiago Silva.
Neymar had a chance to equalize with a close-range header in the 44th, but Colombian goalkeeper David Ospina made a good save to keep his team ahead. Off the rebound, the ball touched Neymar’s hand, prompting the referee to show him a yellow card.
Neymar complained, saying that the touch was involuntary. He had already received a yellow card in the opening game against Peru, when he played extremely well and led Brazil to a 2-1 come-from-behind victory.
“The referees have to respect Neymar because he is always getting hit,” Brazil midfielder Willian said. “It happened again today, and he was the one ejected.”
Brazil had another great chance to score in the 58th, after Murillo misplayed a pass back to Ospina and the ball ended with Roberto Firmino inside the area, but the forward missed the open net, sending his shot over the crossbar.
The Copa America is Brazil’s first official competition since it was humiliated in a 7-1 World Cup semifinal loss to Germany last year. Brazil eliminated Colombia in the quarterfinals of the home tournament.
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