Star Brazil striker Neymar will miss the rest of the 2014 World Cup after he suffered a fractured vertebra in the 2-1 quarter-final win over Colombia.
Neymar was carried off late on in the tense 2-1 last-eight clash in Fortaleza grimacing in agony after a heavy challenge from Colombia defender Juan Camillo Zuniga.
The 22-year-old was whisked to hospital for tests and Brazil's team doctor, Rodrigo Lasmar, confirmed the worst.
"The exam showed he suffered a fracture of the third vertebra in his back," Lasmar said.
Early reports in Brazil suggested that the injury would bring a premature end to his tournament.
Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari said afterwards Neymar was doubtful to recover in time for the semi-final against Germany,
"He was kneed in the lower back," Scolari said.
"Neymar is in hospital, with a lot of pain in his rib and he left crying.
"We don't have the exact information but I can guarantee it won't be easy for him to recover based on what the doctor told us and the pain he is in.
"It will be very difficult for him to play."
Zuniga, who escaped without punishment during a leniently-refereed clash as the teams combined to commit 54 fouls resulting in just four cautions from Spanish official Carlos Velasco Carballo, said there was no intent to injure Neymar on his part.
"It was a normal move. I never meant to hurt a player," he said.
"I was on the field, playing for the shirt from my country, not with the intent to injure. I was just defending my shirt."
The injury to Neymar - who has scored four goals en route to the last four - is a massive blow to Brazil's hopes.
The news puts a further dampener on the victory for Scolari's men, with captain Thiago Silva already out of the semi-final against Germany due to suspension, after being booked against Colombia.
Captain Silva opened the scoring on the night, bundling home after seven minutes before David Luiz's stunning second-half free-kick made it 2-0.
Brazil held on after James Rodriguez reduced the arrears from the spot on 80 minutes, although thoughts had soon moved away from their triumph and to Neymar.