Last night, Brazil and Colombia met in a Copa América group stage game, almost one year after Brazil eliminated the Colombians in Forteleza in the 2014 World Cup quarterfinals. But this time was different. Colombia, having already succumbed to Venezuela in its opening game, managed to pull itself together and frustrate Brazil for 90 minutes, eeking out a 1-0 victory.
Typically, that would be the story. Colombia exacts revenge on the Samba Boys. Or something basic like that. But that would be a disservice to the real story: These two teams wanted to murder each other, and they came damn close after the final whistle.
It was glorious, and for that we have to thank several people, specifically: the referee, Neymar, Carlos Bacca, and Jeison Murillo.
Let’s have a look.
Brazilian players were constantly frustrated by Colombia’s “we don’t care if you’re Brazilian” approach.
The Colombia players took every opportunity — pushing, shoving, whispering — to get into their opponents’ heads. It worked. Here’s Colombia’s Carlos Bacca putting in some work on Dani Alves. Bacca will return later.
After the final whistle, an already frustrated Neymar, who had already been in his share of incidents over the course of the game, launches a shot at Pablo Armero.
That’s not an ideal way to deal with frustration. Armero’s reaction is spectacular, worthy of recognition from a film academy.
Goal scorer Jeison Murillo, who had been in Neymar’s ear all night (whispering God knows what), responds by jogging up to Neymar and quite possibly whispering awful things.
Maybe he just said that he wishes Brazil a safe journey home. Who knows. But Neymar didn’t care for Murillo’s words. Thus, the headbutt.
All signs pointed to this not ending well. The referee, who’d pretty much allowed a wrestling match for 90 minutes, stands with his arms behind his back, as Bacca re-enters the scene.
You remember him, right? Well, shockingly, Bacca isn’t impressed with Neymar, and gives him the people’s shove. Note that Bacca seems to be a fan of attacking from behind. An interesting tactical decision. Also note the subtle throat toss by Fernandinho on Murillo.
Then scenes happens, obviously. Shovings and such. Shirts are torn, words exchanged.
The referee gathers himself as the assistant referees hover on the periphery, watching for flying karate kicks or maybe machetes. Who knows. Outside eyes are important. Amazingly, no one was ruled offside.
Eventually, Neymar, already on a yellow card and missing out on Brazil’s next game due to yellow card accumulation, tried to escape.
But the referee tracked him down, before he could make his exit, and brandished a red card. Neymar will now probably be suspended until he’s 33.
Bacca also received a red card.
What a day. This all happened during injury time and after the final whistle. This is why it’s always dangerous to turn a game off before coverage ends.
A special thank you to the referee, Neymar, Bacca and Murillo. Thank you, gentlemen, for your service.