Double blow for Brazil in Copa America
Santiago (Chile): 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 0-1 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, criticising 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.
“Referees have to stop thinking that they are the stars. They are are not the stars they are there to control the game,” Alves fumed.“We are used to this in South America — everyone here is against Brazil.”But victory was sweet for Colombia, who were subjected to rough-house tactics from Brazil last year during the World Cup in a 1-2 quarterfinal exit, a match scarred by a whopping 54 fouls.
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.
A defensively-strong Colombia also gave no quarter.
No Neymar? We’ll cope, says coach
Brazil coach Dunga insisted that the team would find a way to cope at the Copa America without inspirational captain and goalscorer Neymar after his red card controversy against Colombia. Tournament disciplinary chiefs are to announce Thursday the punishment for Neymar who was sent off after appearing to aim a headbutt at Colombia goalscorer Jeison Murillo following a 0-1 defeat on Wednesday.
“We have played without Neymar before. We have to be ready,” Dunga said of the looming absence of the key player.The coach said he would wait to see what punishment is inflicted but told a press conference after Wednesday’s match that he was already thinking of possible solutions.“We are starting to think about how to play,” he said. “We played once without Neymar and now we will see the players we have,” he said.