Brazil to Play Germany in World Cup Soccer Semifinals
Neymar, Brazil’s leading scorer, was lost for the remainder of the tournament with a broken bone in his back.
Defenders Thiago Silva and David Luiz each scored to give Brazil a 2-0 lead. Colombia’s James Rodriguez scored a 78th minute penalty after goalkeeper Julio Cesar brought down Carlos Bacca in the box, getting a yellow card in the process. It was Rodriguez’s sixth goal, making him the event’s leading scorer.
“They really committed men forward, with three strikers and James dropping into space,” Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari said. “Our front men had to do a lot more running too, but we got there in the end. We’ve still got two steps to go but we’ve got the ability to get there.”
Germany moved to the July 8 match by beating France 1-0 earlier in the day, giving it a part in the semifinals of 10 of the 13 World Cups. Today, Argentina plays Belgium and the Netherlands meets Costa Rica to decide the other semifinal. The tournament ends with a July 13 final back in Rio’s Maracana stadium.
Brazil’s match was physical, with its 54 fouls being the most in the tournament so far. Silva will miss the game with Germany after receiving a yellow card last night, and Neymar left the field on a stretcher after fracturing his third vertebrae.
“He is out of the World Cup,” team doctor Rodrigo Lasmar said after the game.
The loss of Neymar will probably hurt Brazil’s chances of winning sport’s most-watched competition on home soil. Scolari described the Barcelona forward as the team’s most-potent attacking threat before the tournament. With his goals and a crucial score in a penalty shootout victory over Chile in the first knockout game on June 28, Neymar was living up to his star billing.
Neymar, 22, was fouled five minutes before the game’s end by Juan Zuniga, who jumped and put his knee in the forward’s lower back as they challenged for a ball.
German defender Mats Hummels scored in the 13th minute with a header from a set piece to give Germany the lead against France. He also scored against Portugal in the opening round of the tournament in Brazil.
“It certainly was not a perfect match, but it was pretty good and I think we deserve to go on,” Hummels told reporters. “If we can carry on this kind of soccer, a few things could pan out, even if the next match will certainly be difficult.”
The French were denied 20 minutes after the German goal by goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, who reached down and stopped Mathieu Valbuena’s attempt and then Karim Benzema was unable to get any power on the rebound. Valbuena was having success against Germany’s defense on the wings.
Fifteen minutes into the second half, Valbuena’s cross found the head of defender Raphael Varane, who was stopped easily by Neuer.
With 10 minutes remaining in the second half, Germany had a chance to increase its lead as Mesut Ozil streaked down the left and passed the ball into the box. The cross went past a lunge by Thomas Mueller and to Andre Schuerrle, who was unchallenged but shot straight at Hugo Lloris.
France had a chance in the final minute but Benzema’s shot was saved by a thrust of Neuer’s arm.
“Everybody was sad, disappointed, frustrated, and I can’t get that away from them because I feel the same way,” France coach Didier Deschamps told reporters. “Let’s not forget what we’ve done so far, which is very good. We wanted to go further. We wanted to qualify for the semis, but I don’t think there was a huge gap between both teams.”
It was 26 degrees Celsius (79 degrees Fahrenheit) and 88 percent humidity at the start of the match in Rio, according to the website of tournament organizer FIFA. The players took an unofficial water break in the first half.
“On the pitch in the sun it was extremely hot, you can hardly breathe, the air hardly moves,” Germany coach Joachim Loew said. “For us Europeans that is perhaps not so easy, we’re not used to that.”
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