Brazil maintained its perfect record at the 2021 Copa América with a 2-1 win over Colombia, but it was a result that was marred by controversy.
And not for the first time in his career, it was Argentina referee Néstor Pitana at the center of it.
After FC Porto forward Luis Díaz had given Colombia a first-half lead with a stunning overhead kick – by far the best goal of the tournament so far – Brazil’s 78th-minute equalizer came after Neymar’s attempted pass hit Pitana’s legs.
The referee raised the whistle to his mouth, causing a number of Colombian players to stop, but inexplicably decided to wave play on, allowing Neymar to gather the ball and find Renan Lodi, whose cross was headed home by Roberto Firmino.
Colombia’s players were understandably incensed by the goal, which was allowed to stand despite clearly going against the rules laid out by the International Football Association Board (IFAB) and the presence of VAR.
IFAB rules state the ball should be considered out of play if it “touches a match official, remains on the field of play and a team starts a promising attack.”
Colombia’s fury was compounded by Casemiro’s winning goal in the 100th minute of play, which made it three wins from three games for the Seleção.
Colombia head coach Reinaldo Rueda was his usual diplomatic self after the match.
“Brazil’s two goals are different situations,” he said at his press conference. “For the first one, I believe the referee’s situation caused the players to become distracted.”
The defeat leaves Colombia in second place on four points in Group B but already has its quarterfinal place secured along with Brazil.