Colombia defender Juan Zuniga
said he did not deliberately try to
hurt Brazil forward Neymar when
he kneed him in the back on Friday,
fracturing his vertebra and ruling
the marquee player out of the rest
of the World Cup.
Brazil held on for a 2-1 quarterfinal
win over their fellow South
Americans but will be without
Neymar against Germany in Belo
Horizonte on Tuesday and the final
should they progress.
"We wanted to score, and it was a
tough game. Brazil was marking
strongly. I hope it's nothing serious,
let's pray to God," Zuniga told
"On the pitch I'm defending my
shirt, my country, but I didn't
expect him to fracture a vertebrae.
He is a great talent for Brazil and
for the world."
Zuniga jumped into the back of Neymar and his
knee struck the Brazilian's third vertebra two
minutes from the final whistle, dealing a major
blow to the hosts who are seeking a sixth world
"It's a normal action, I tried to shadow him,"
Zuniga said. "I was not thinking of hurting him. I
was defending my countrys colours."
Neymar had to be taken off on a stretcher and
was transported to hospital where the extent of
the injury was diagnosed.
Colombia were desperate for an equaliser after
falling 2-0 behind before cutting the deficit with a
"Sadly it happened this way. I hope he gets well,
God willing," the Colombia defender said.
Neymar, who had netted four times in the
tournament, will not require surgery but will be
out for several weeks, team doctors said.