Neymar loses his head

DISMISSAL: Chilean referee Enrique Osses showing a red card to Neymar (left), who is likely to be banned for two games.
DISMISSAL: Chilean referee Enrique Osses showing a red card to Neymar (left), who is likely to be banned for two games. PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY
TROUBLE STARTS: Brazilian star Neymar fires a shot that hits Pablo Armero after the referee blows the final whistle.
TROUBLE STARTS: Brazilian star Neymar fires a shot that hits Pablo Armero after the referee blows the final whistle. PHOTOS: REUTERS
RETALIATION: Neymar is pushed by Colombia's Carlos Bacca after he had head-butted Jeison Murillo.
RETALIATION: Neymar is pushed by Colombia's Carlos Bacca after he had head-butted Jeison Murillo.

Striker sent off and faces 2-game ban after Colombia earn upset 1-0 victory

SANTIAGO - A year ago, Colombia defender Juan Camilo Zuniga left Neymar with a broken back during the World Cup quarter-finals, effectively ending his - and Brazil's - tournament.

After the two sides met again in the Copa America on Wednesday, Neymar was facing a similar predicament - at least two key matches on the sidelines, with Brazil's title hopes in jeopardy.

Only this time, it was the Barcelona star who committed a rash act, getting sent off in a post-match fracas as Brazil crashed to a 0-1 defeat.

POOR OFFICIATING

He allowed rough play and provocation and then we had the lamentable scenes at the end.

- Brazil coach Dunga, blaming Chilean referee Enrique Osses

As the final whistle went, Neymar unleashed a shot that struck Pablo Armero in the back.

Jeison Murillo, who had scored the first-half winner from Juan Cuadrado's teasing free-kick, had words with Neymar. And the Brazil captain responded with a flick of his head before he was shoved violently by Carlos Bacca, who was also sent off.

Tournament disciplinary chiefs are expected to confirm the length of Neymar's suspension, with a two-match suspension expected.

That will rule him out of Brazil's final group game and the quarter-finals.

The forward had already picked up his second yellow card of the tournament for a deliberate hand-ball - automatically ruling him out of Sunday's match with Venezuela - when referee Enrique Osses showed him a straight red.

Brazil need a good result against a Venezuelan side, who have already registered a shock victory against Colombia, to be sure of making the knockout stages of the competition.

Even with Neymar, who was kept quiet on Wednesday largely due to an outstanding tackling display by holding midfielder Carlos Sanchez, the Selecao lacked ideas against a well-organised Colombia defence.

But Brazil manager Dunga insisted that the team would cope without their talisman.

"We have to be ready," he said after his first defeat since taking over following the World Cup.

"We are starting to think about how to play. We played once without Neymar and now we will see the players we have."

Dunga, however, was strongly critical of the Chilean referee over the sending-off.

"He allowed rough play and provocation and then we had the lamentable scenes at the end," he said.

Neymar was also scathing of the match officials after Brazil slumped to their first loss to the Colombians in 24 years. It left Colombia and Brazil tied at the top of Group C on three points along with Venezuela, who have played one game fewer and meet Peru this morning (Singapore time).

"In my view, the rules are always used against me," he told Brazilian media, criticising Osses' decision to caution him for a hand-ball 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."

His Brazil and Barcelona team-mate Dani Alves went one step further, lashing out at the Chilean official and accusing Colombia's players of seeking to provoke Neymar, 12 months after the striker suffered a broken vertebra during the teams' stormy World Cup battle.

But victory was sweet for Colombia, who were subjected to rough-house tactics from Brazil last year during their 1-2 loss, a match scarred by a whopping 54 fouls.

"We had a great game plan and it worked today," said Colombia's Real Madrid star James Rodriguez.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Group C: Peru v Venezuela

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 19, 2015, with the headline 'NEYMAR LOSES HIS HEAD'. Print Edition | Subscribe