By Elzio Barreto
FORTALEZA, Brazil, July 4 (Reuters) - Playmaker James Rodriguez said referee Carlos Velasco Carballo did not help Colombia in a bruising 2-1 defeat to hosts Brazil but the tournament's leading scorer was proud of his team who reached the World Cup quarter-finals for the first time.
"We fulfilled all the dreams we had ... It's a shame we have to go," Rodriguez said in televised remarks on Friday.
"I'm crying because we gave everything. Unfortunately, the referee didn't help much. Brazil is a good team but we gave everything so we are calm. We wanted to carry on, but we hold our heads high. Thank you Colombia."
Brazil, leading 2-0 after defender David Luiz's stunning 69th minute free kick, appeared to be cruising into the semi-finals.
But Colombia, who have charmed the neutrals with their attacking football and carefree attitude, came roaring back and scored from the penalty spot after Brazil keeper Julio Cesar brought down Carlos Bacca.
Rodriguez took the responsibility for the spot kick, netting his sixth goal of the World Cup but there will be no more at this tournament after Brazil clung on for victory.
Many observers felt Rodriguez was not given sufficient protection after he was fouled repeatedly, and questioned the Spanish referee's decision to brandish a yellow card, not a red, at Cesar for the foul.
Rodriguez, the poster boy of the World Cup who has eclipsed even home favourite Neymar with his scintillating soccer and positive attitude, said he was proud of his team.
"Thank you Colombia, because you always had faith," he said. "Unfortunately we stop here, but we wanted to carry on. We're sad but we also have to feel proud because we left our skin out there."
Brazil meet Germany in their semi-final on Tuesday in Belo Horizonte. (Additional reporting by Luis-Jaime Acosta in Bogota; Writing by Mike Collett-White; editing by Justin Palmer)
- Sports & Recreation
- James Rodriguez
- Carlos Velasco Carballo
- FORTALEZA, Brazil