Colombia gave a performance of confidence, character and skill as they held five-times World Cup winners Brazil to a 1-1 draw in an international soccer friendly in the US on Wednesday.
Jose Pekerman’s side were more than a match for their illustrious opponents in New Jersey and even took the lead on the stroke of half time when Juan Guillermo Cuadrado shot into the corner from a tight angle.
Brazil, who struck the bar through Kaka before falling behind, equalized on 64 minutes when Neymar scored with a fine individual effort. The Santos striker squandered a great chance to give Brazil the victory when he missed a penalty late in the second half.
It would have been harsh on Colombia who displayed some fine attacking football especially through Cuadrado who gave a master class in wing play.
Pekerman should be happy with both the performance and result as it takes his record since taking over to just one defeat in eight matches and further enhanced Los Cafeteros’ reputation as one of the most improved teams in international soccer.
All notions of this being just a friendly match quickly disappeared as both teams make their attacking intentions clear early on with some penetrating passing. Neither side seemed to be giving an inch with some strong challenges flying around, Radamel Falcao in particular receiving some rough treatment.
Despite some quick incisive passing in the final third Colombia couldn’t find a way to test Diego Alves in the Brazil goal as they were constantly thwarted by a stoic defense.
At the other end Kaka could have opened the scoring when he chipped the ball wide from inside the area when he really should have tested Colombia goalkeeper David Ospina
Brazil went even closer soon after when Ospina produced a brilliant save from a point-blank Neymar header. The Colombian defense stood still as the predatory striker broke the offside trap, although he will feel he should have scored with the goal at his mercy.
Brazil went even closer on the half hour mark when Kaka found enough space on the edge of the area to send a chip over the flat-footed Ospina. However, the ball cannoned back off the crossbar to the disbelief of the Real Madrid midfielder.
Despite being continually frustrated by the defensive class of David Luiz and Thiago Silva Colombia kept knocking on the door and broke the deadlock with their first shot on target.
It came from down the right when the lively Cuadrado was found by James Rodriguez inside the area and the winger beat Alves with a shot into the corner.
After the interval Brazil continued to cause problems In the Colombian defense and they were soon level when Neymar showed quick feet in the area to make space for himself before nonchalantly curling the ball into the far corner.
Falcao, who had found chances hard to come by all night, could have put Colombia back into the lead a minute after but his close-range diving header was straight at Silva.
Brazil had a golden chance to take the lead 10 minutes from time when they were controversially awarded a penalty when Carlos Sanchez was adjudge to have fouled Dani Alves in the area despite replays clearly showing that the Colombian defender had won the ball.
Justice was done, however, as Neymar sent the spot kick flying over the bar, afterwards suspiciously examining the pitch which seemed to crumble as he took the kick.