UK & World News
Brazil's Star Striker Neymar Out Of World Cup
Brazilian celebrations of their quarter-final victory over Colombia were dampened late on Friday with news that Neymar, the country's brightest star, is out of the World Cup.
The 22 year-old was stretchered from the field late in Brazil's 2-1 victory with what was later confirmed as a vertebra fracture.
He suffered the injury after a foul by Colombian Juan Zuniga three minutes from time.
The defender planted his knee in Neymar's lower back as he jumped for a header, leaving the forward flattened and in obvious pain.
He was carried away on a stretcher straight down the tunnel in the stadium in Fortaleza and taken to hospital for assessment.
The team doctor Rodrigo Lasmar then confirmed the injury meant Neymar would play no further part in the tournament.
The injury is a personal blow that will be seen as potentially ruinous to Brazil's chances.
Neymar is the outstanding talent in an otherwise moderate side by Brazilian standards, and there has been huge expectation and pressure heaped on his slim shoulders.
His absence may expose the lack of creativity and class in the Brazilian squad that was evident in a bad tempered but effective performance against Colombia not helped by poor refereeing.
Neymar's injury was the most serious result, but the tone has been set by what appeared a deliberately physical approach from Brazil, apparently targeted at Colombia's star James Rodriguez.
He was subject to a series of robust challenges, in particular from midfielder Fernandinho, who was not punished for one challenge that could have merited a yellow card.
The treatment was deliberate and effective. It left Rodriguez increasingly rattled, robbing his side of the creative fulcrum who had hitherto charmed the tournament.
Brazil's performance was a long way from the "joga bonita" of stereotype, but if it wasn't beautiful it was pretty effective.
Captain Thiago Silva and David Luiz were manically committed in defence and also provided the goals that sent Brazil through to a semi-final against Germany, who beat France 1-0 in Rio earlier in the day.
Silva, criticised for his tears in previous games, bundled in the first on seven minutes.
Chelsea's Luiz, who had his own cynical moments, then produced a goal worthy of winning a better match with a 30 yard-free kick in the second half.
His manic, vein-popping celebration spoke eloquently of the pressure under which this Brazilian team is operating. They have 200m compatriots behind them, but also expecting them to win.
It is a significant burden, and one that will only increase with the loss of Neymar, the one Brazilian with the talent to lift his side above the ordinary.
The other semi-final will be contested by the winners of Saturday's quarter-finals between Holland and Costa Rica, and Argentina and Belgium.