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Neymar returns to Brazil camp in ambulance

FORTALEZA, Brazil -- Neymar returned to Brazil's training camp in an ambulance after being ruled out of the World Cup because of a broken vertebra that will sideline him for four weeks.

Neymar flew back to Rio de Janeiro with the rest of his Brazil teammates following their 2-1 quarterfinal victory over Colombia in Fortaleza on Friday and rode the rest of the way to the team's camp in the mountain city of Teresopolis by ambulance.

The 22-year-old striker was kneed by Colombia defender Juan Camilo Zuniga late in the second half at the Arena Castelao, fracturing his third vertebra.

He was carried off the field in tears on a stretcher and “screamed in pain in the dressing room” before being taken to the hospital, the Brazilian confederation said in a statement early Saturday.

The injury is not expected to require surgery and the recovery time will be about four weeks, the confederation said.

It was not immediately clear if Neymar would remain with the rest of the team as it prepares for Tuesday's World Cup semifinal against Germany in Belo Horizonte. The squad isn't expected to leave the training camp until Monday.

Neymar is the biggest football star in Brazil and was one of the stand-out players of the World Cup so far, scoring four goals in the team's first three games.

He was hurt in the 86th minute, falling to the ground in pain after Zuniga jumped into him from behind.

“Everybody knew that Neymar would be hunted,” Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari said after the game. “It's been happening in the last three matches and we had been talking about it. But nobody listens to us.”

Friday's match ended with 54 fouls in total — 31 by Brazil and 23 by Colombia. Scolari said Spanish referee Carlos Velasco Carballo should have done more to take control of the match.

According to Hulk, another of Brazil's striker, Neymar needs more protection from the officials.

“Every time is like this. Players always come after Neymar,” Hulk said. “The referees need to do more to keep this from happening.”

Messi Wishes Neymar Prompt Recovery

Four-time world soccer player of the year Lionel Messi wished his Barcelona teammate Neymar a quick recovery after the Brazil star suffered a fractured vertebra, ruling him out of the remainder of the World Cup.

“Neymar, I hope that you recover very quickly,” wrote the Argentinian on his Facebook page alongside a photograph of the two stars in their Barcelona shirts.

Neymar was carried off grimacing in agony after an aerial collision with Colombia defender Juan Camilo Zuniga toward the end of the contest. The 22-year-old got a knee in the back.

“The exam showed he suffered a fracture of the third vertebra” in his back, Brazil team doctor Rodrigo Lasmar said.

Messi, who like Neymar has been the standout star for his team, will hope to join Brazil in the semifinals later on Saturday when he leads his Argentinian teammates against Belgium in Brasilia with the kick-off at 1600 GMT.

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Soccer fans gather outside Sao Carlos Hospital where Brazil soccer player Neymar was taken after being injured during the World Cup quarterfinal soccer match between Brazil and Colombia in Fortaleza, Brazil, Friday, July 4. (AP)



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