Ney­mar awaits Copa fate af­ter Brazil crash to Colom­bia in shock 1-0 de­feat

The China Post - - SPORTS - BY CE­SAR LOPEZ

Brazil cap­tain Ney­mar faces a ner­vous wait to dis­cover his Copa Amer­ica fate af­ter get­ting sent off in a post-match fra­cas as the five-time world cham­pi­ons crashed to a 1-0 de­feat against Colom­bia on Wed­nes­day.

Ney­mar risks a two-match sus­pen­sion — rul­ing him out of Brazil’s fi­nal group game and the quar­ter­fi­nals — af­ter ap­pear­ing to aim a head­butt at Colom­bia goalscorer Jei­son Murillo fol­low­ing the fi­nal whis­tle.

Tour­na­ment dis­ci­plinary chiefs are ex­pected to con­firm the length of Ney­mar’s sus­pen­sion on Thurs­day, but re­ports in the Brazil­ian media said the 23-year-old Barcelona star faces a two-game ban.

The striker had al­ready picked up his sec­ond yel­low card of the tour­na­ment for a de­lib­er­ate hand­ball — au­to­mat­i­cally rul­ing him out of Sun­day’s fi­nal Group C match with Venezuela — when ref­eree En­rique Osses showed him a straight red.

Ney­mar was scathing of the match of­fi­cials af­ter Brazil slumped to their first loss to the Colom­bians in 24 years.

“In my view the rules are al­ways used against me,” Ney­mar told Brazil­ian media, crit­i­ciz­ing Osses’ de­ci­sion to cau­tion him for a hand­ball in the first half.

“I was off bal­ance, the ball hit my hand but it was not in­ten­tional. They put a weak ref­eree in there to whis­tle up for all that. The team didn’t play well.”

Brazil coach Dunga also laid blame at Osses’ door af­ter the de­feat, which com­pli­cates his team’s route to the knock­out rounds.

“He al­lowed rough play and provo­ca­tion and then we had the la­mentable scenes at the end,” Dunga com­plained.

Ney­mar’s Brazil and Barcelona team­mate Dani Alves lashed out at Chilean fol­low­ing the de­feat.

Rough-house Tac­tics

Alves also ac­cused Colom­bia’s play­ers of seek­ing to pro­voke Ney­mar, 12 months af­ter the striker suf­fered a bro­ken verte- bra dur­ing the two teams’ stormy World Cup quar­ter-fi­nal bat­tle.

But vic­tory was sweet for Colom­bia, who were sub­jected to rough-house tac­tics from Brazil last year dur­ing the World Cup in a 2-1 quar­ter­fi­nal exit, a match scarred by a whop­ping 54 fouls.

A pul­sat­ing open­ing 45 min­utes saw Colom­bia grad­u­ally get on top af­ter a fran­tic start dom­i­nated by de­fense.

Brazil, who brought in Thi­ago Silva at cen­ter-back in place of David Luiz, de­fended in depth through­out, drop­ping back in num­bers and frus­trat­ing Colom­bia’s at­tack.

Colom­bia also gave no quar­ter, with de­fen­sive midfielder Car­los Sanchez break­ing up Brazil’s at­tacks in mid­field and re­strict­ing the five-time world cham­pi­ons to hardly any shots on goal.

Colom­bia slowly be­gan to get the bet­ter of their op­po­nents how­ever, and soon started to threaten.

A Sanchez shot de­flected just wide of Brazil­ian de­fender Mi­randa just af­ter the half-hour mark and then on 36 min­utes the break­through came.

Juan Cuadrado’s teas­ing free-kick from the right flank dropped into the area and when Brazil failed to clear, Murillo was on hand to ri­fle in a low shot past Jef­fer­son.

Chelsea star Cuadrado might have dou­bled Colom­bia’s lead on 43 min­utes but waste­fully shot wide af­ter be­ing teed up by Teo Gu­tier­rez’s deft back­heel.

Brazil went for broke in the sec­ond half, bring­ing on Liver­pool at­tack­ing midfielder Philippe Coutinho for Fred, and im­me­di­ately looked more threat­en­ing as a re­sult.

But they squan­dered a golden chance to equal­ize on 58 min­utes when Bun­desliga-based striker Roberto Firmino missed an open goal.

The ball ended up with Firmino af­ter Ospina made a hash of a clear­ance. But with an open goal beg­ging, Firmino — re­port­edly a sum­mer trans­fer tar­get for Liver­pool — blazed over the bar.

AP

Colom­bia’s Car­los Bacca, sec­ond left, pushes Brazil’s Ney­mar, cen­ter right, at the end of the Copa Amer­ica Group C soc­cer match at the Mon­u­men­tal sta­dium in San­ti­ago, Chile on Wed­nes­day, June 17.

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