A fierce onslaught on the Brazilian goal in the last ten minutes failed to yield results as Brazil advanced with a 2-1 win.
Centre backs Thiago Silva and David Luiz gave Brazil a seemingly unassailable 2-0 lead, but a James Rodriguez penalty set up a tense final fifteen minutes, Brazil holding on to send the capacity crowd in Fortaleza home ecstatic.
The hosts came up against their South American counterparts with a place in the last four at stake, with expectations lying high on Brazil and poster boy Neymar.
The remarkably open game did not take long to heat up. Brazil won a corner in the 6th minute, from which Thiago Silva turned in Neymar’s cross with his knee, unmarked at the far post.
Brazil created several opportunities, keeping Columbia on the back foot as Neymar, Hulk, and Oscar combined flawlessly behind lone striker Fred.
Columbia’s first effort was a free kick from Inter midfielder Freddy Guarin, which he hit horribly over.
Cuadrado came closer minutes later, cutting in over Marcelo onto his left foot, then hitting a venomous strike which Julio Cesar did well to get down to punch to corner.
That was the extent of Cesar’s involvement in the half, as from then it was all Brazil, with David Ospina in the Columbian goal having to be on top form to keep his side in the game.
Twice Hulk weaved his way into the box, hitting those fierce shots he’s well known for; and twice David Ospina saved well. Off the second shot, Oscar hit a rebound from outside the box which Ospina duly saved.
Columbia had a great chance in the 22nd, after James Rodriguez went on a mazy run, setting up Cuadrado on the right; but the Fiorentina midfielder’s return pass was poor, Thiago Silva getting back to clear when Columbia had a three-on-two advantage.
The half was closed with a Neymar free kick, hit way over the bar.
The second half began at half pace, as the urgency of the first half seemed lost. It took until the 58th minute for a real chance, Freddy Guarin hitting his volley a little too high after good work from Rodriguez.
Top scorer Rodriguez was showing all the reasons why he is one of the best players at this year’s world cup, keeping the ball well and setting up chances for his teammates. His delivery was also excellent, sending in two free-kicks which caused havoc within the Brazilian box, but on either occasion the ball was cleared.
Columbia’s attacking play failed to yield any result, and in the 68th minute against the run of play, Brazil scored. It was a fantastic goal from centre back David Luiz, hitting in a freekick from well over 30 yards.
The goal shocked Columbia who continued to attack, bringing on Bacca and Quintero for more attacking options. Neymar’s curling shot nearly made it three, but it fell on the wrong side of the post.
Columbia pulled one back in the 79th, top scorer James Rodriguez getting his 6th of the competition from the spot. The penalty resulted from a foul on substitute Bacca by Brazil keeper Julio Cesar, who was booked for the challenge.
The goal lifted Columbia, who mounted a relentless assault on the Brazilian goal. Brazil defended gallantly though, even fashioning out a few chances on the break for themselves. Neymar had to be stretchered off after picking up a knock as the game wore down.
In the end, despite the best efforts of James Rodriguez, Columbia were eliminated; Brazil making the semi final as they continue their seemingly inexorable march to their 6th world cup triumph.