Brazil's Neymar ruled out of World Cup with back injury

Fri Jul 4, 2014 9:07pm EDT
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By Elzio Barreto

FORTALEZA Brazil (Reuters) - Brazil forward Neymar has been ruled out of the World Cup after fracturing a vertebra in his back in the closing stages of the 2-1 quarter-final win over Colombia on Friday in a major blow to the host nation.

Neymar, who has scored four goals in the tournament, will miss the semi-final against Germany in Belo Horizonte on Tuesday and the final should they progress. He is expected to be out for several weeks.

"Unfortunately, he's not going to be able to play," said Brazil team doctor Rodrigo Lasmar.

"It's not serious in the sense that it doesn't need surgery, but he'll need to immobilize it to recover," Lasmar said after the player was taken straight to hospital from the stadium in Fortaleza.

Neymar, Brazil's poster boy and one of the world's most marketable players, has been driving his country's bid for a sixth world title with his goals and creative talent.

He went down after a challenge by Colombia's Juan Zuniga in the 88th minute and looked to be in considerable pain after what turned out to be a cracked third vertebra.

"It’s a normal action, I tried to shadow him," defender Zuniga told reporters. "I was not thinking of hurting him. I was defending my country´s colors."

"On the pitch I'm defending my shirt, my country, but I didn't expect him to fracture a vertebra. He is a great talent for Brazil and for the world," Zuniga said.   Continued...

Brazil's Neymar grimaces after a challenge by Colombia's Camilo Zuniga (unseen) during their 2014 World Cup quarter-finals against Colombia at the Castelao arena in Fortaleza July 4, 2014.    REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch