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Costly victory for Brazil: Star striker Neymar out of World Cup with broken back

Brazilian star Neymar cries as he’s bucketed off the field after suffering a back injury against Colombia on Friday in quarterfinal play of the World Cup.Reuters photo

FORTALEZA Brazil (Reuters) — Brazil forward Neymar has been ruled out of the World Cup after fracturing his vertebrae in the closing stages of the 2-1 quarterfinal win over Colombia on Friday, his team said.

“It’s not serious in the sense that it doesn’t need surgery, but he’ll need to immobilize it to recover,” team doctor Rodrigo Lasmar said 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.”

Neymar, who has scored four goals in the tournament to lead Brazil’s bid for a sixth world title, went down after a challenge by Colombia’s Juan Zuniga in the 88th minute and looked to be in pain.

His side will face Germany in the semi-final in Belo Horizonte on Tuesday but the absence of Brazil’s poster boy is a major blow for the hosts.

The 22-year-old, who plays for Spanish club Barcelona, had to be carried off on a stretcher and was replaced by defender Henrique for the final minutes of the game.

“We lost Neymar on that play, and based on what I’ve seen, I think it’s going to be tough for him to play,” Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari had earlier told reporters.

Many Brazil fans had gathered outside the Fortaleza hospital, shouting “Forca Neymar” (be strong Neymar) as the player was being wheeled into the building.

Brazil will also be without captain Thiago Silva when they take on Germany, after he was booked on Friday with his second yellow card and misses the semifinal game through suspension.

Germany outlasts Frace

RIO DE JANEIRO — Germany broke French hearts for the third time in the World Cup when they triumphed 1-0 at the Maracana on Friday to become the first country to reach the semifinals in four successive tournaments.

The goal came when Mats Hummels, back in the side after illness, powered his effort in as he muscled French defender Raphael Varane out of the way with the ball flying into the net off the underside of French keeper Hugo Lloris’s crossbar.

It proved to be the only goal of a match that never came to life as a spectacle, with both teams making mistakes and failing to take any of the rare chances that came their way.

Loew might have been watching a different match though as he told reporters: “It was an incredibly exciting match. But you can’t expect anything other than that at the World Cup. Both teams were equal.

“The players are really wiped out now. The sun in the stadium, it was incredibly hot, it was an intensive match back and forth.

“The team knows I’ve got a variety of different lineup plans. I always said when I have the feeling that I need to set a new stimulus, I’ll do it and the players know that,” said the coach.

France coach Didier Deschamps lost a proud personal record with the defeat, his first in the World Cup as either a player or coach.

 “It’s unfortunate, but our team isn’t used to big meetings like this. We had chances to equalize, but Neuer stopped us with his saves. Germany played at a very high level. “There wasn’t a lot of difference between us but they advanced.”