By FRANCO PANIZO
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Neymar was first the hero, then the scapegoat.
Neymar wasted a prime opportunity to help Brazil defeat South American foes Colombia in a friendly on Wednesday night, missing a late penalty kick that forced the Selecao to settle for a 1-1 draw with the Colombians in front of a crowd of 38,624 at MetLife Stadium. The Brazilian youngster had pulled his team level earlier in the second half with a dazzling goal in the run of play, but he embarrassingly blasted his effort from 12 yards out into the stands in the 81st minute.
The Cafeteros were the better team in front of the pro-Colombia crowd in the first half of an open and entertaining affair, and they went ahead prior to halftime thanks to a strike from Juan Guillermo Cuadrado.
Brazil responded with an improved second half, equalizing through Neymar and sending waves of attacks against the reeling Colombians.
The opener came when Cuadrado put the dynamic Colombians ahead with a well-taken strike following a beautiful passing sequence that had the Colombian fans chanting “ole” in the 44th minute. After a string of short passes, James Rodriguez slipped Cuadrado in behind the defense and the Fiorentina midfielder hit a shot past Brazil goalkeeper Diego Alves and off the far post.
Neymar pulled Brazil level in the 64th with one of his trademark dribbling moves, running into the penalty area before cutting back on a defender and curling a shot around Colombia netminder David Ospina. The goal was Neymar’s second in three matches at MetLife Stadium.
The Brazilians continued to look the better side for the remainder of the match, and they had a golden opportunity to head home victorious when Pablo Armero was called for tripping up Dani Alves inside the penalty area in the 79th minute.
Neymar, however, was left hanging his head in shame after skying the spot kick.
What do you think of Brazil’s 1-1 draw with Colombia? Surprised by how badly Neymar missed the penalty kick?
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