Brazilian superstar Neymar is out of the World Cup after suffering fractures to his vertebra in the final minutes of Brazil's 2-1 win against Colombia.
Neymar, who had scored four goals at the 2014 World Cup, went down after a challenge from Colombia's Juan Zuniga in the 88th minute. Brazil's wonderkid appeared to receive a knee in the lower back from Zuniga and was in serious discomfort. The striker had to be helped onto a stretcher and appeared to be screaming in pain as he left the field of play.
"The exam showed he suffered a fracture of the third vertebra" in his back, said 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," added the doctor after the player had been taken to hospital.
"Unfortunately, he's not going to be able to play," he said, adding he expected the recovery period to take at least a few weeks.
Many Brazil fans had gathered outside the Fortaleza hospital, shouting "Forca Neymar" (be strong Neymar) as the player was being wheeled into the building. Even the country's president, Dilma Rousseff tweeted: "Like all Brazil I am one of those cheering from the sidelines for our star Neymar to get better."
Brazil will also be without captain Thiago Silva when they take on Germany in the semi-finals on Tuesday, after he picked up a yellow card against Colombia that sees him suspended.
With both Neymar and Thiago Silva out of Brazil's semi-final against Germany, the hope for a sixth World Cup title earned on home soil has suffered a serious blow.
jh/hc (AFP, dpa)