World Cup 2014: Winners and Losers from Day 17
The 2014 FIFA World Cup has moved into the knockout stages with two terrific all-South American clashes, with Brazil and Colombia the first two nations to book their passage to the quarter-finals.
Brazil against Chile was a pulsating encounter which went the entire distance: extra time, and then penalties. There, Brazil triumphed over their rivals. The later match saw Colombia dispatch Uruguay in 90 minutes, meaning they will face the hosts in the last eight.
Here are all the biggest winners and losers of the day.
Winner: Felipe Scolari, for Making the Change the Midfield Needed
Before a ball had even been kicked, Brazil boss Felipe Scolari earned himself a bonus point by removing the utterly ineffective Paulinho from his midfield lineup.
Fernandinho came in to replace him, with the idea of providing better on-ball quality and more vertical runs from deep for the Brazil side, which Paulinho had largely failed to provide.
Luiz Gustavo actually offered more of those runs early on, but the switch was needed nonetheless.
Loser: Jo's Close-Range Mis-Kick
Whether you blame the forward for mis-timing his shot or award top marks to the defender for doing his best to put off Jo, the Brazil man had one big chance fall his way during the match, but he missed the opportunity to tap in from five yards.
He has been called upon several times off the bench for Brazil to make an impact where Fred has failed from the start—but this was as close as he's come to finding the net.
Jo fluffed his lines rather spectacularly.
Winner: That 120 Minutes of Football
World Cup, you're doing it right.
What a fantastic game fans were privileged to watch, with plenty of excitement, incidents and ability on the ball from two teams who clearly wanted the victory.
Whichever side you were supporting, there was plenty to admire in both halves of the field and perhaps only penalties could possibly have separated Brazil and Chile in the end.
Winner: Howard Webb and Co. with Their Officiating
The World Cup has seen several matches receive criticism for the level of officiating and the mistakes being made, but Howard Webb and his team put in a faultless display in the Brazil vs. Chile match.
They got all the big calls right, including a handball decision against Hulk which the inside forward proceeded to score from.
All in all, a very good display which kept the game running, kept everybody on the field and didn't affect the outcome negatively.
Loser: The Big Penalty Miss
As good as the Brazil vs. Chile match was, there had to be a villain of the piece once the tie went to a penalty shootout.
Mauricio Pinilla, Alexis Sanchez, Hulk and Willian all missed their penalties, but the 10th and final spot-kick was the most telling—and it was very nearly the best of the lot.
Gonzalo Jara hit his effort high and hard, beating the dive of Julio Cesar—only to see it smack back off the inside of the post, bouncing across goal and out, sending Chile out with it and Brazil through to the quarters.
Chile boss Jorge Sampaoli felt his side were as good as Brazil, as per football365.com, and cast doubt upon their rivals' chances of winning overall:
We wanted to win the game before going to penalties. I don't know if Brazil will win this World Cup.
I don't believe in moral victories. They don't count. We were on par with these teams. Football is like this. I told them to fight, be brave and defy history. Looking ahead, we have to keep going on that path. We had players who risked their health for the national team. I can't ask more of them and am proud of our team.
Loser: Uruguay's Lack of Attacking Threat
Shorn of Luis Suarez and lining up with a three-man defence to counteract the attacking threat of Colombia, Uruguay were disappointingly stilted in their performance and rarely looked like troubling Colombia goalie David Ospina.
They managed just four shots on target throughout the game—the same as their opponents—but two of those came in the last 10 minutes, as per WhoScored, when the damage was already done and the game almost beyond their reach.
Edinson Cavani didn't pose much of a problem, Diego Forlan was anonymous and Christian Stuani proved once more he is no adequate alternative in the attack.
Winner: James, James, James
The player of the tournament so far in many fans' eyes, James Rodriguez was Colombia's star once more.
His first goal was arguably the strike of the World Cup: a fantastic piece of awareness and control to chest the ball, swivel and volley it past Fernando Muslera, in off the crossbar.
Good movement and anticipation netted him a second after another good all-round performance from the attacking midfielder.
As Jonathan Wilson noted in a piece for Sports Illustrated, Rodriguez is fast becoming the star of this World Cup:
It seems an odd thing to say about a player who moved for 45 million Euros last summer, but he has been the big breakthrough star of the World Cup, moving from being a promising youngster to bona fide star. He is only the 12th player in history to score in each of his first four World Cup games, and the first since Christian Vieri in 1998.
Winner: All-South American Clashes
So, after two round-of-16 games with four South American sides doing battle, we get to do it all again in the quarter-finals.
Chile and Uruguay are out, but Brazil will next face Colombia as they seek to win the game's biggest trophy on home soil, while Colombia are through to the quarter-finals for the first time in their history.
And if all that wasn't South American enough for you, Colombia's boss, Jose Pekerman, was born in Argentina—the country his side are technically on course to meet in the final, should both go the entire distance.