Hosts Brazil have squeezed through to the quarter-finals of the FIFA World Cup on penalties after a tense, thrilling 1-1 draw with Chile at the Estadio Mineirao in Belo Horizonte. Gonzalo Jara hit the post with the decisive kick, while Julio Cesar saved two, to give Brazil a 3-2 win in the shootout and send the valiant Chileans home.
Chile had only made it this far at the World Cup on three previous occasion and, having been beaten by Brazil on each of those, knew that the odds and omens were heavily stacked heavily against them. The early stages of the match suggested that this one, too, would closely follow that historical pattern, with Marcelo snatching on an early half-cleared corner to curl in a powerful left-foot shot that flashed just wide of the left-hand post.
It was a signal of intent from the hosts and, after seeing penalty appeals turned down at both ends, the Mineirao crowd were able to cheer a Seleção opener after 18 minutes. Neymar was its architect, curling in an inswinging corner from the left that was bundled home from close range by David Luiz – with a little help from Jara – after Thiago Silva had won the initial near-post header.
Brazil were in the ascendancy and, with the fans buoyant, Neymar almost doubled their lead on 26 minutes, outpacing Medel on a surge into the box only to drag his left-foot shot wide of the far post. All that positive work was soon to be undone, though, with Chile levelling six minutes later due to a moment of defensive slackness.
Hulk and Marcelo were the guilty parties, with their poorly executed throw-in routine near the byline allowing Eduardo Vargas to steal in and square for Alexis Sanchez. Unmarked and scarcely able to believe his luck, the Barcelona winger had time and space to pick his spot and duly measured a low-right foot shot into the far corner of the net from 12 yards.
Moments of hesitancy at the back continued to plague Luiz Felipe Scolari’s side, but they remained the game’s most positive attacking force and came close to re-establishing their lead on three more occasions prior to the break. First, after good play down the right by Dani Alves and Oscar, Neymar saw his goal-bound header deflected wide, then Fred shot over from close range and a 30-yard Dani Alves effort forced a fine tip-over from Claudio Bravo…. see more