Why, Neymar, why?
Rush of blood to Brazil star's head sees him red-carded against Colombia, facing lengthy ban
(Jeison Murillo 36)
Almost a year on, the bad blood still lingers.
Colombia turned up at the Estadio Monumental David Arellano in Chile yesterday morning (Singapore time) looking to avenge last year's World Cup quarter-final loss.
Brazil's Neymar showed up looking to settle an old and very personal score, and got himself red-carded for his troubles after the final whistle of the Copa America group match.
Colombia picked up a famous 1-0 win, deservedly, Jeison Murillo's 36th-minute strike proving to be the difference.
Theirs was a display that combined tenacity, desire and flair.
Brazil's reeked of a festering wound that won't heal.
Maybe they had other things on their mind. Neymar certainly did.
Last July, this was the match that killed his and Brazil's World Cup dream.
Colombia lost that fixture 2-1, but Brazil lost Neymar.
Kneed in the back by Colombia's Juan Zuniga, Brazil's superstar suffered a fractured vertebra that ruled him out of the semi-final against Germany in Belo Horizonte, where Brazil were humiliated 7-1 in front of their home fans.
In Neymar's desperate search for his version of poetic justice, he lost his head.
Not even a 43rd-minute yellow card could restrain him.
On several occasions, he tempted fate, like when he punched the ball away after Chilean referee Enrique Osses had blown for a free-kick in Colombia's favour.
Defeat, however, was too bitter a pill for him to swallow. The rush of blood to the head was only a matter of time.
When the final whistle went, he appeared to thump a loose ball at defender Pablo Armero, and then proceeded to aim a headbutt at goalscorer Murillo.
This time, he tested the official's patience once too often, and Osses eventually flashed him the red card as he disappeared into the player's tunnel.
Already, his handball offence was his second yellow card of the tournament, which rules him out of Brazil's final group game against Venezuela on Monday morning.
Brazilian media reports suggested that he is facing a two-game ban.
Carlos Bacca's red, for his retaliation on Neymar during the chaos that ensued at the end of the game, was Colombia's only blotch in an otherwise splendid performance.
It was their first win over Brazil since 1991, and one that threw Group C wide open.
Should Peru beat leaders Venezuela this morning, all four teams will be equal on three points with two matches played.
But Neymar's eyes won't be peeled on the result of that match.
He will be more anxious to learn of his Copa America fate.
A year ago, his unfortunate absence brought about Brazil's collapse.
This time around, a self-inflicted one could trigger another downfall.
- 7.30am: Peru v Venezuela