By CARL SETTERLUND
In a game that was filled with action, if not controversy, World Cup host Brazil found a way to slow down the in-form team of the tournament, holding off its western neighbor Colombia, 2-1, in a quarterfinal at Estádio Castelão in Fortaleza.
David Luiz had never scored for Brazil, but rose to the occasion to provide the winner on an absolute golazo from over 30 yards in the 69th minute.
Luiz caught Colombian keeper David Ospina inching too far to the left and struck it flush, knuckling it inside the upper right corner to make it a two-goal lead at the time.
Brazil played with the lead for most of the game as Thiago Silva gave them a 1-0 advantage off a corner kick by Neymar in the seventh minute.
Colombia’s Carlos Sánchez was caught ball-watching on the play, allowing Silva to sneak in unmarked at the far post, which was also left untended. Ospina (3 saves) was also off his line and was unable to make a play on the ball, allowing for a simple finish by the center back.
The Colombians were able to draw within a goal in the 80th minute on a penalty kick by James Rodríguez, who finished past Julio Cesar off a stutter-step into the lower left corner.
Rodríguez, the current Golden Boot leader with six goals, helped created the penalty kick by playing Carlos Bacca through into the box in the 77th minute. Cesar received a yellow card for taking down Bacca, likely avoiding a red because Luiz was there as well to challenge the scoring chance.
The Brazilians advance to the World Cup semifinals for the first time since 2002 when they won the tournament. They will play Germany at 4 p.m. Tuesday at Estádio Mineirão in Belo Horizonte.
Brazil was, however, dealt a pair of serious blows in its prospects of advancing to the final. A yellow card to Silva in the 64th means the Brazil captain will miss the semifinal game, while Neymar was stretchered off in the 88th minute (Update: Neymar was found to have suffered a broken vertebrae and is out for the remainder of the World Cup).
Adding some reason for encouragement for Brazil going forward is that Hulk provided one of his better performances, putting shots on frame in the 20th and 28th minutes.
The tournament hosts were able to disrupt the fluidity that helped Colombia to its first World Cup quarterfinal ever, as the teams committed a combined 54 fouls, including 31 by Brazil.
The 22-year-old Rodriguez in particular struggled to find the form that had previously made him the breakout star of this World Cup. He and Juan Cuadrado were each fouled six times.
Referee Carlos Velasco Carballo issued four yellow cards overall, but didn’t reach for his pocket until Luiz’s booking in the 64th minute.