Published November 14, 2012
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Neymar had a night to remember and one to forget.
The young Brazilian star scored in the 64th minute and then skied a penalty kick well over the crossbar in the 81st Wednesday, leaving the five-time World Cup champions with a disappointing 1-1 draw against Colombia in an exhibition game.
The 20-year-old, who has emerged as Brazil's top player as it prepares to host the 2014 World Cup, offset Juan Guillermo Cuadrado's 44th-minute goal for Colombia by using his quick feet to cut the ball back with his left foot around defender Aquivaldo Mosquera, take two touches with his right and score on an angled shot from 15 yards. But then, after Pablo Armero pulled down Daniel Alves in the penalty area, Neymar had an embarrassing miss.
He took several steps to his left, then slowed in his approach on the temporary grass field and sent his penalty kick a good 15 yards over the crossbar and into the stands. Neymar's tongue was hanging as he retreated to midfield.
"That's Neymar's typical way of shooting a penalty — just not as high," Brazil coach Mano Menezes said through a translator, pointing skyward and smiling. "The grass definitely made the penalty kick a little bit more difficult than usual."
Neymar wasn't flustered by the gaffe.
"It's not a big deal, I've missed goals before. I took the penalty just like I always do," he said. "Maybe it was the grass. They said it was high. But I have nothing to feel bad. I scored a great goal, too."
No. 13 Brazil, ranked five spots behind Colombia, never took a lead against a team it hasn't lost to in 21 years. The Brazilians have 15 wins, two losses and eight draws against the Colombians overall.
Center backs David Luiz and Thiago Silva pretty much shut down Colombian star Radamel Falcao.
"That was very intense match, two teams committed to score goals. Friendlies usually are not played at this level," said Colombia's Jose Pekerman, whose team is third in South American qualifying as he completed his first year in charge. "Colombia is on the right path, charging ahead on the qualifiers. At this point, I can say that we're in a right spot."
Brazil was playing at MetLife Stadium for the third time since the 2010 World Cup — the Selecao has only had six games in Brazil during that span. But on a cool autumn night, with mass transit still limited following Superstorm Sandy, the match drew a pro-Colombia crowd of 38,624 and the top deck was completely empty. The crowd was well below the 77,223 for Brazil's August 2010 game against the United States and 81,994 for this June's match against Argentina.
Kaka, the 2007 FIFA Player of the Year who returned to the national team last month for the first time since the 2010 World Cup, had several good chances and clanked a long-range shot off the crossbar in the 32nd.
Cuadrado scored his third international goal, beating left back Leandro Castan — starting in place of injured Marcelo — and goalkeeper Diego Alves to the far post off a pass from James Rodriguez.
Because it is hosting the World Cup, Brazil gets an automatic berth — meaning the players have nearly two years with no competitive international matches.
"Very difficult," Menezes said. "They have to adjust to the parameters, but over time they adjust accordingly."
NOTES: Of Neymar's 17 international goals, three have been scored in the U.S., where he got a goal against the Americans in his debut. ... With rail service from Manhattan to MetLife Stadium still suspended, the stadium arranged for Coach USA to provide 20-30 buses. There were long lines for them at Port Authority Bus Terminal.