Brazil Beat Chile in Penalties in Opening Match of Knockout Rounds
After the group stages finished, with Brazil topping group A ahead of Mexico, and the round of 16 pairings were finalized, the Brazilians must have nearly fainted.
A draw against three other South American sides, including a match against a Chile side that beat Spain and a potential quarterfinal against a scary Colombian side, looked one of the more difficult in the tournament.
So far that assessment has proved correct.
With the eyes of the world watching, Brazil took an 18th minute lead courtesy of a David Luiz goal. But, despite holding the lead and the home field advantage, the script deviated in the 32nd minute when a poor back-pass from Hulk was played in to Alexis Sanchez, whose clinical finish knotted the game at 1-1.
The teams traded chances in the second half, with Chile more often than not playing the aggressor, but couldnt find the back of the net (Hulk had a go-ahead goal rightfully disallowed because of a handball) and headed into extra time.
With the exception of a 120th minute strike that went off the crossbar for Chile, the extra time was surprisingly uneventful and set up 2014s first penalty battle.
The pressure mounted, the players took their shots and the post saved the day. Again.
Seriously, if the Brazilians havent found a way to sign the frame of the goal to an endorsement deal they really should get on that.
Although Julio Cesar managed to save the first two penalties he faced, it wasnt until Gonzalo Jaras attempt somehow went off the inside of the post and bounced away that Brazil was through to the quarterfinals.
Between the shot saved in the latter stages of the match, and the final penalty that was cleared away, the goals frame was probably Brazils man of the match. But, since inanimate objects cannot actually win the award, Cesar was rewarded for his performance, and rightfully so.
The Queens Park Rangers keeper, who is currently on loan with Toronto FC in the MLS, was quoted after as being relieved that the team held on to win the match.
We needed this. I just hope that the next games dont go to penalty kicks again because our family members and relatives might have a heart attack, Cesar said according to The New York Times.
In 2010 Cesar was very much the scapegoat following the Brazilians elimination at the hands of the Netherlands, and was a controversial choice as the No. 1 for the hosts by manager Luiz Felipe Scolari.
But after his performance against Chile it is unlikely any of the Brazilian faithful will question the keeper again.
Cesar was emotional following the match, reflecting on the last tournament and how it weighed on him.
I gave an interview four years ago and I cried, Cesar said through tears to Sportv. I was very sad, but now I am crying because I am happy.
Only God and my family know what I went through and I still do. My teammates gave me a lot of support to do my best. I hope to give more interviews like this, this is my dream.
Following such a tough match things do not get any easier for the host nation, as Colombia waits in the quarterfinals after dispatching Uruguay 2-0.
The match is set for Friday at 4 p.m.