Brazilian star fractures vertebra
by The Associated Press
July 05, 2014 04:02 AM | 1260 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Brazil’s Neymar, front, suffered a fractured vertebra Friday when he took a knee in his back from Colombia’s Juan Camilo Zuniga.
<Br>Associated Press photo
Brazil’s Neymar, front, suffered a fractured vertebra Friday when he took a knee in his back from Colombia’s Juan Camilo Zuniga.
Associated Press photo
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Without Neymar on the field, Brazil will play Germany for a spot in the World Cup final.

The host nation advanced to the semifinals for the first time in 12 years on Friday, beating Colombia 2-1 with the goals coming from defenders Thiago Silva and David Luiz.

But the celebration was quickly tempered when Neymar, the poster boy of this year’s World Cup, fractured a vertebra.

Neymar was kneed in the back by Colombia defender Juan Camilo Zuniga late in the second half and was in tears when he was carried off the field on a stretcher.

He was taken to a private clinic for tests and team doctor Rodrigo Lasmar said the star striker had fractured his third vertebra.

Lasmar said Neymar will not have to undergo surgery and is not expected to remain hospitalized.

The 22-year-old forward has been the focal point of both the Brazilian team and the entire World Cup, and he lived up to expectations with four goals in the first three matches.

Brazil will also be without Silva for Tuesday’s match against Germany in Belo Horizonte. The captain must sit out after getting his second yellow card of the tournament for impeding Colombia goalkeeper David Ospina.

Brazil, which is trying to become the first host to win the World Cup since France in 1998, had been eliminated in the quarterfinals at the last two World Cups. The “Selecao” lost to the Netherlands in the quarterfinals in 2010 and to France in 2006 after winning its fifth title in 2002.

Silva gave Brazil the lead in the seventh minute, scoring with his left knee after a corner from Neymar passed through the Colombian defense. 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 inside of his foot and 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.

Germany 1, France 0: Germany reached the semifinals for a fourth straight World Cup by beating France in a cagey match settled by a first-half header from Mats Hummels.

The center back headed Toni Kroos’ free kick in off the underside of the bar in the 13th minute in one of the few chances created in muggy conditions at Maracana Stadium.

Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer punched away Karim Benzema’s powerful drive in injury time to preserve the lead, having saved well from Mathieu Valbuena and Benzema in the first half.

France struggled to impose its attacking game in the face of a robust, experienced Germany side that seemed more comfortable on the big stage.

It guaranteed Europe at least one representative in the semifinals — the Netherlands and Belgium also have chances to qualify today — and continued Germany’s recent dominance over France at World Cups.

The most notorious of those was the meeting in the 1982 semifinals in Spain, when Germany won on penalties following a 3-3 draw in a match marked by a late and high tackle by Germany goalkeeper Harald Schumacher on France defender Patrick Battiston that escaped punishment.

That went down as one of the most riveting matches in World Cup history, but the rematch — 32 years on — couldn’t have been more different.
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