Luis Manuel Díaz looked overcome with emotion as he witnessed his son net an impressive second-half brace to fire Colombia to a 2-1 win inside packed Estadio Metropolitano.
On October 28, Díaz Sr. was abducted along with his wife, Cilenis Marulanda, by ELN gunmen in his hometown of Barrancas, northeastern Colombia. Marulanda was rescued later that day, but Díaz Sr. was handed over just under two weeks later to a mixed commission of UN personnel and Catholic priests on Thursday in nearby city Valledupar.
He was reunited with his son earlier this week, ahead of Thursday’s match in Barranquilla, Colombia.
Gabriel Martinelli had given Brazil an early lead in the game, but Díaz responded with two goals in four second-half minutes.
The first came in the 75th minute, with Díaz directing his header into the bottom corner of the net as a cross found its way to the Liverpool star.
While the forward celebrated the equaliser, television footage showed his emotional father, wearing in a Colombia shirt, cheering along.
Just moments later and the pair were celebrating again. Díaz timed his run brilliantly again and leapt above a Brazilian defender to score another header past his Liverpool teammate and Brazil goalkeeper Allison in the 79th minute.
The stadium erupted with the goal, as Díaz jumped over the advertising boards to be closer to the fans. Footage once again showed Díaz Sr. passionately celebrating with tears in his eyes.
“I’m grateful to my teammates, to the coaching staff who were always there for me at every moment,” Díaz said, according to BBC Sport.
“And I dedicate the victory to the people, who deserved it.”
It was a cathartic evening for the Díaz family, but another bad one for Brazil, which has now lost its second consecutive World Cup qualifier match.
The five-time World Cup champion has now slipped to fifth in the qualifying standings, with Colombia up to third.
Elsewhere, Argentina suffered a 2-0 loss to Uruguay on Thursday in its World Cup qualifier – the first time the world champion has been beaten since losing to Saudi Arabia in the World Cup group stages last year.
The Ballon d’Or winner did come close to scoring though, hitting the crossbar with a freekick in the second half.
“We never felt comfortable, didn’t find a way to end up with the ball or the control of the actions, were not able to have long possessions, didn’t create chances and played the game that they wanted, in their rhythm,” Messi told TyC Sports, per Reuters.
“They are a physical team that bring a lot of danger in the counter-attacks and they showed that with the goals they scored.”
Argentina remains top of the qualifying standings with 12 points, with Uruguay now just two points behind in second.
There are 18 rounds in South America’s World Cup qualifying system, with the top six teams progressing to the 2026 event while the seventh-placed country will go into the FIFA play-off tournament, which will involve six countries from other continents.
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