Neymar’s Red Card Adds to Brazil’s Loss at Copa América


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Colombia’s Carlos Bacca pushes Brazil’s Neymar, center, at the end of the match Wednesday. Neymar head-butted a Colombian opponent after the final whistle, receiving a red card, and he will be suspended at least for Brazil’s next game.

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Ricardo Mazalan/Associated Press

SANTIAGO, Chile — Neymar, the superlative Brazilian soccer star, jumped over a sign barrier last month while celebrating a late Champions League goal and an imminent victory for Barcelona that was watched by tens of millions of viewers.

It was a crowning moment of a successful club campaign for Neymar, the culmination of a year spent erasing the memories of last year’s bitter World Cup disappointment in Brazil.

But back in South America on Wednesday, against the same country that knocked him out of last year’s World Cup with a fractured vertebra, Neymar walked off the field in disgrace. He had just head-butted a Colombian opponent after the final whistle, receiving a red card, and he will be suspended for at least Brazil’s next game.

Neymar’s frustration was building all game, from the moment in the first half when he punched the ball after being called for a foul. But it exploded at the conclusion of Colombia’s 1-0 win over Brazil in the Copa América, resulting in an ugly and chaotic scene that was far removed from the delight of Barcelona’s Champions League victory.

At the final whistle, Neymar, who had complained bitterly all game about the treatment he felt he was receiving from the Colombian defenders, turned and unleashed a shot that struck Colombia defender Pablo Armero.

Jeison Murillo, the 23-year-old defender who scored the game’s only goal, in the 36th minute, ran up to Neymar and said something to him as he placed his arm around Neymar’s shoulder. Neymar responded with a quick flick of his head into Murillo’s face.

An instant later, Neymar was pushed violently in the back by Carlos Bacca, a Colombian forward. Players from both teams rushed from the benches into the middle of the fracas, and it took several moments to restore order. Neymar and Bacca were shown red cards, and they will miss their teams’ final group-stage matches.

When all was finally settled, the Colombian players waved to the announced crowd of 44,008 fans at Estadio Monumental, the overwhelming majority of whom were supporting Colombia.

The victory provided a rebound for the Colombians, who lost their first game, to Venezuela, on Sunday. It was only the second time Colombia had beaten Brazil in a competitive tournament, and the third over all. The last time Colombia did it in a game that counted was July 12, 1991 — also in Chile for the Copa América. Brazil defeated Colombia, 2-1, in a quarterfinal at last year’s World Cup.

For Brazil, the loss was compounded by Neymar’s suspension. He already had a yellow card in Wednesday’s game, his second of the group stage, so he could miss at least two games — provided Brazil advances, which is not guaranteed. The Brazilian soccer association was looking into having Neymar’s penalty reduced.

Brazil, which has 3 points, from a win over Peru, will play Venezuela in its final group-stage match on Sunday.

Dunga, Brazil’s coach, blamed the referee Enrique Osses, saying he had allowed the situation to get out of hand.

“He was a bad ref,” Dunga said. “The fight at the end was his fault.”

It was Colombia that ended Neymar’s World Cup last year. Late in the quarterfinal in Fortaleza, Colombia defender Juan Zúñiga drove his knee into Neymar’s back while challenging for a loose ball.

Neymar crumpled to the ground, along with Brazil’s hopes for a championship. He sustained a fractured vertebra and was out for the rest of the tournament, and Zúñiga became a public enemy in Brazil, which went on to lose, 7-1, to Germany in a semifinal.

Last September, when the teams played each other in an exhibition in Miami, the two players shared an amicable moment on the field. But on a cool winter night in Santiago, bad feelings emerged, and Neymar was again in the middle of it.

Lost in all the friction was a fine performance by Colombia, which put the anxiety from its loss to Venezuela to rest. The Colombian defenders did a remarkable job shutting down Neymar, and Brazil never put together a consistent attack until very late in the game.

Correction: June 18, 2015

An earlier version of this article gave the incorrect position for Colombia’s Carlos Bacca. He is a forward, not a defender.



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