Brazil advanced to the World Cup quarter-finals with a nervy and dramatic 3-2 penalty shootout win over Chile in Belo Horizonte on Sunday morning.
The two teams fought out a 1-1 draw after Alexis Sanchez cancelled out David Luiz’s opener, but goalkeeper Julio Cesar came up big for the hosts just as it looked like a premature exit from the tournament beckoned.
The keeper denied both Sanchez and Mauricio Pinilla in the shootout lottery, only for Chile keeper Claudio Bravo to keep his side in it with a save off Hulk.
But after Neymar defied nerves to score from his kick, Chile’s Gonzalo Jara smashed his shot against the bar, sparking scenes of joyous relief in Brazil.
Brazil will next play the winners of the other last-16 match later on Sunday morning between Uruguay and Colombia.
“The pressure of representing Brazil and playing at home is really great. We played well in the first half but after Chile equalised they got into the game” – said Julio Cesar
Defender David Luiz had opened the scoring for Brazil with a close-range finish in the first-half of regulation time, tapping home a ball at the far post from a corner.
But Chile equalised after a defensive error from a Brazil throw-in, with an interception finding Sanchez alone in the box to arrow in an accurate finish.
“It was complicated,” Cesar told reporters after the match.
“The pressure of representing Brazil and playing at home is really great. We played well in the first half but after Chile equalised they got into the game.”
Brazil thought it was back in the lead early in the second half when a brilliant Marcelo cross was chested down by Hulk who finished with his left leg, but English referee Howard Webb ruled the forward had handballed in the process.
Chile nearly went ahead when Mauricio Isla and Arturo Vidal combined superbly to set up a Charles Aranguiz shot, but Cesar saved brilliantly to prevent potentially one of the best team goals scored at the tournament.
Brazil looked to hit back at the other end, with substitute Jo failing to get a finish on an excellent Hulk cross.
Hulk again had the chance to put Brazil ahead after a jink into the box saw him unleash a shot at goal, only to be denied by Bravo’s blockbuster save.