BRAZIL punched their ticket to Copa America’s quarter-finals after a controversial victory over Colombia at the Olympic Stadium.
Referee Nestor Pitana became an unlikely protagonist in this crucial encounter as he refused to halt the game after the ball hit him in the build-up to the Selecao’s equaliser.
The Tricolor opened the scoring after just 10 minutes with what could be the goal of the tournament by Luis Diaz.
Juventus star Juan Cuadrado delivered a pinpoint cross from the right flank and found Diaz, who hit the back of the net with a stunning overhead kick that gave Weverton absolutely no chance.
Brazil struggled throughout the match to threaten Colombian goalkeeper David Ospina, who equalled Carlos Valderrama’s record of 111 caps.
Neymar came close after 66 minutes when he picked up a lovely pass by Roberto Firmino inside the area and dribbled past Ospina but sent the ball to the right-hand post in front of an open goal from a tight angle.
However, Tite’s men got their equaliser on 78 minutes when Renan Lodi’s cross from the left set Firmino up for the header that the Colombia goalkeeper failed to hold on to.
The Colombians were incensed with referee Pitana as he refused to award a dropped ball after making contact in the build-up.
The ensuing fracas between the official and Reinaldo Rueda’s men led to 10 minutes of stoppage time, which made things worse for the complainants.
Brazil turned things around in the final minute of the game.
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Neymar picked up an unmarked Casemiro from a corner-kick and the Real Madrid star headed the ball to the back of the net.
The Selecao have sealed first place in Group B and are now set for a favourable draw in the quarter-finals after Sunday’s final group-stage match with Ecuador.
Colombia are second but will have to wait on the final round of fixtures that will determine their fate in the tournament.
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