FORTALEZA, Brazil, July 4 AFP - Colombian star James Rodriguez claimed Spanish referee Carlos Velasco Carballo had been a decisive influence as his country's World Cup dreams ended with a 2-1 quarter-final defeat to Brazil.
Rodriguez extended his lead as the competition's top scorer with a penalty 10 minutes from time to register his sixth goal in five games.
However, by then the damage had already been done for Colombia as goals either side of half-time from Thiago Silva and David Luiz booked Brazil a semi-final meeting with Germany on Wednesday (AEST).
"Unfortunately, the referee didn't help a lot," said the Monaco playmaker, who had been singled out for some rough treatment by the Brazilian players.
Manchester City's Fernandinho was particularly culpable as he hacked down Rodriguez three times in the first half alone without being booked by Carballo.
And Brazil were later to pay the price for the physical nature of the game as star striker Neymar was ruled out of the World Cup after suffering a fractured vertebrae when he clashed with Juan Zuniga two minutes from time.
"I think the referee influenced the game a lot, but that is how it is and we need to look forward," Rodriguez said.
"We are sad because we wanted to go further in the World Cup. That is what hurts most, but Brazil are a good team."
Rodriguez was comforted by Luiz and a number of other Brazilian players as he left the field in tears with the Paris Saint-Germain defender gesturing to the home crowd to applaud the Colombian.
And the 22-year-old said Colombia could be proud having reached the last eight for the first time in their history.
Colombia coach Jose Pekerman also praised his side for the style in which they approached the tournament and won many admirers around the world.
"After being absent from the World Cup for a long time we have made Colombian football valued, with some very talented players and competed with an important spirit," said the Argentine.
"We came here to play a great World Cup and didn't consider it sufficient to just participate. That is the most important thing I can say about this squad."
However, Pekerman refused to lambast Carballo despite his apparent reluctance clamp down on Brazil's rough-house tactics as they committed 31 fouls throughout the 90 minutes.
"It was a match in which there was balance and very good players on both sides and when that happens it produces friction due to competitiveness because players want to win their individual battle.
"The tension was very high. Brazil needed to win and we always aspired to win so there was a lot of intensity."