Hosts Brazil advanced to the quarter-finals of the FIFA World Cup after surviving a penalty shootout, 3-2, against Chile in a thrilling round-of-16 clash on Saturday at the Estadio Mineirao in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.
The match was level at 1-1 after 90 minutes, with neither side scoring in 30 minutes of extra time. Brazil went ahead in the 18th minute via an own goal, officially credited to David Luiz, before Chile leveled in the 32nd minute through Alexis Sanchez.
In the penalty shootout, Luiz, Marcelo and Neymar converted spot-kicks for Brazil, while goalkeeper Julio Cesar made two saves. Charles Aranguiz and Marcelo Diaz scored for Chile, but Gonzalo Jara missed the decisive kick to give Brazil a 3-2 victory.
Brazil had a potential match-winning goal disallowed in the second half, referee Howard Webb controversially ruling out the strike for a handball on Hulk. Chile came closest to breaking the deadlock in extra time as substitute Mauricio Pinilla hit the crossbar in the 120th minute.
For Cesar, the shootout provided a bit of personal redemption. Four years ago at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, the goalkeeper was at fault for a goal that led to Brazil's elimination at the hands of the Netherlands. But on Saturday against Chile, Cesar proved the difference as the Selecao squeaked into the last eight by the slimmest of margins.
After surviving a stern test, Brazil now move on to the quarter-finals to face either Colombia or Uruguay on Friday in Fortaleza. Only three more wins are required for the Selecao to clinch a record sixth World Cup title.
To do so, however, Luiz Felipe Scolari's side will have to improve defensively. In the first half, Brazil committed a costly error that led to Chile's opening goal—and nearly gave away another shortly before half-time.
The match began in feisty style, with Aranguiz and Neymar crumpling under early challenges. Both teams then tried their luck from distance in the sixth minute, Marcelo curling a shot wide for Brazil before Diaz directed an effort off target at the other end.
Brazil went ahead in the 18th minute following a set piece. Neymar curled a corner into the box, where Thiago Silva flicked on his header toward the back post. Luiz was lurking dangerously, but Jara turned the ball into his own net.
Leading 1-0, Brazil came close again in the 26th minute. But after racing onto a long pass behind Chile's defence, Neymar dragged his shot wide.
Chile equalised six minutes later following a defensive lapse from the hosts. Accepting a pass deep in his own half, Hulk misplaced a back pass with a poor first touch. Eduardo Vargas pounced and slotted the ball into the middle for Sanchez, who finished low at the far post past Julio Cesar to make it 1-1.
Both teams had chances to score again before half-time. For Brazil, Neymar had a header deflected inches wide in the 36th minute, and Fred lifted a poor effort well over the bar three minutes later. Dani Alves then tested Claudio Bravo with a dipping shot from long distance in the 42nd minute.
But for all of Brazil's attacking, Chile almost took the lead in stoppage time after another defensive lapse from the hosts. This time Luiz Gustavo gave away possession in Brazil's half, allowing Sanchez to pick out Aranguiz in a dangerous position in the box. Aranguiz tried to direct a shot on target, but Luiz made an important block to keep Brazil on level terms at half-time.
The drama ratcheted up another level shortly after half-time after Brazil had a goal ruled out controversially. Marcelo set up the chance in the 55th minute, playing a long ball over the top for Hulk on the right side of Chile's box. Hulk pulled the ball down before finishing delicately at the far post, but Webb ruled the goal out for handball on Hulk.
Brazil reacted angrily as Webb booked Hulk for the incident. Meanwhile, replays suggested Hulk used a combination of his upper arm and armpit to control the ball.
Sports Illustrated's Grant Wahl said Webb's decision was correct:
With the tension mounting, Brazil introduced striker Jo for the misfiring Fred in the 64th minute. But within moments, the next big chance fell to Chile after a flowing move set up Aranguiz on the right side of the box. Aranguiz connected well with his first-time shot, but Cesar shifted his momentum expertly to parry the ball away.
Brazil came close again in the 81st minute as Dani Alves floated a fine pass into the box for Neymar. But Neymar flicked his header straight at Bravo, who saved easily. The Chilean goalkeeper saved again minutes later, pushing away Hulk's fierce shot with both hands.
With the match still tied 1-1 after 90 minutes, the pace slowed in extra time. The hosts had a half-chance in the 101st minute as Oscar headed weakly at Bravo following good work by Hulk down the right. Two minutes later, Hulk forced Bravo into another save with a powerful drive from distance. At the other end, Sanchez sent a free-kick off target seconds before the first 15-minute period ended.
As the second half of extra time began, Jo headed over from a Neymar corner in the 107th minute. Brazil then escaped by a matter of inches in the 120th minute, Pinilla hitting the crossbar with a ferocious drive moments before the match went to penalties.
Luiz started the shootout with a goal before Brazil before Cesar saved Pinilla's shot. Willian then missed for Brazil before Cesar saved Sanchez's kick as well.
Marcelo and Aranguiz converted their attempts to make it 2-1, and Diaz pulled Chile level after Hulk had his shot saved by Bravo. Neymar then slotted in to put Brazil up 3-2 to set up Jara's decisive try, which cannoned off the upright and away to safety.
With that, Brazil were through, having survived a stern test. The quest for a sixth title remains on, but after such a difficult round-of-16 match, their path might only become tougher from here.
|Brazil Player Ratings|
|Starting XI||Half-Time||Full-Time||Extra Time|
|Jo (for Fred, 64')||N/A||4||4|
|Ramires (for Fernandinho, 72')||N/A||5||5|
|Willian (for Oscar, 106')||N/A||N/A||5|
|Chile Player Ratings|
|Starting XI||Half-Time||Full-Time||Extra Time|
|Felipe Gutierrez (for Vargas, 57')||N/A||6||6|
|Mauricio Pinilla (for Vidal, 87')||N/A||5||5|
|Jose Rojas (for Medel, 108')||N/A||N/A||5|
Brazil goalkeeper Julio Cesar said he shed "tears of joy" after the shootout, telling reporters (h/t Goal.com): "I was crying in desperation four years ago, but now I cry tears of joy. There are still many games left to play, but I dream of celebrating."
He added that Brazil knew Chile would represent a tough test, saying: "We expected a difficult game despite a good first half. After the equaliser, we ran into problems. It was complicated, as we are playing on home turf and the pressure is enormous."
Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari praised Chile, telling AFP (via The Australian):
Chile were brilliant. They are a well-organised team and it was a very balanced game, but I want to tell the people of Brazil that we have a good team and a lot of what we did today was due to the fans.