It’s OK, Brazil. You can breathe again. And then say "obrigado!" to Toronto FC goalkeeper Julio Cesar.
In a thrilling start to the knockout round Saturday at Estádio Mineirão in Belo Horizonte, Brazil needed a penalty shootout to hold off a huge upset bid from Chile and advance to the quarterfinals.
With the game deadlocked at 1-1 through 90 minutes of regulation and 30 minutes of extra time, Brazil won the shootout by a 3-2 margin, thanks to two big saves by Julio Cesar and Chile’s Gonzalo Jara striking the post on the final shot.
For much of the contest, Chile looked poised to hand Brazil its first home loss in a competitive game since 1975. But, in the end, Brazil improved their record to 49-7-13 against Chile, knocking their South American rival out of the World Cup for the second straight time and fourth overall.
PENALTY PRESSURE: It doesn’t get more nerve-wracking than a shootout, does it? And it certainly showed, as Chile’s Mauricio Pinilla, Alexis Sanchez and Jara all missed their PKs, as did Brazil’s Willian and Hulk. But Brazil got PK goals from David Luiz, Marcelo and Neymar to prevail, while Charles Aranguiz and Marcleo Diaz were the only Chileans to beat Cesar – the pride of Toronto FC and MLS.
SAVED BY THE WOODWORK: Shortly before the shootout, Pinilla was inches away from knocking Brazil out of the World Cup and scoring what would have certainly be one of the most memorable goals in World Cup history. But the Chilean sub’s blast from distance smashed off the crossbar in the 120th minute, keeping Brazil – and the hopes of an entire nation – alive.
Using a fire extinguisher as an oxygen tank and it's working.— Brian Phillips (@runofplay) June 28, 2014
NEYMAR HELD IN CHECK: After rolling into the knockout round with four goals in his first three games, Neymar was shut out by a stout Chilean defense. The Brazilian star’s best chance came in the 81st minute but his header was stopped by Chile goalkeeper Claudio Bravo. To be fair, it wasn’t just Neymar that was frustrated; the entire Brazilian side looked disjointed for much of the game.
Brazil completed 68% of passes in regulation. That would be its worst comp pct in a WC game in the last 50 years.— Paul Carr (@PCarrESPN) June 28, 2014
OWN GOAL OR DAVID LUIZ GOAL? David Luiz’s first career international goal (in 40 appearances) could not have come at a better time for Brazil, as it put the home side up 1-0 in the 18th minute. But was it actually his goal? After Thiago Silva flicked a Neymar corner to the back post, it was hard to tell if Luiz got his leg on it or if Chile’s Gonzalo Jara kicked it into his own net. Either way, Luis celebrated like it was his – and later made a goal-saving tackle on the other end in stoppage time of the first half.
NOT-SO-INCREDIBLE HULK: A bad giveaway from Brazil’s Hulk led to the game-tying goal from Alexis in the 32nd minute. After a throw-in on his own end, Hulk had a soft pass intercepted by Eduardo Vargas, who quickly played a ball to Alexis. The Barcelona striker then beat Cesar to the far post for his second goal of the World Cup, shocking the home crowd and setting in motion the drama that would come later.
Stadium. Silenced. Sanchez. pic.twitter.com/4tsBNW3MDg— ESPN (@espn) June 28, 2014
ANGRY HULK: In the 55th minute, it looked like Hulk had found his redemption with a go-ahead goal. But referee Howard Webb called the goal back, whistling Hulk for a handball when he brought the ball down before shooting. Needless to say, Hulk was not happy. And Brazilian fans did not seem to be happy with him – or much-maligned attacking partner Fred, who was booed off the field in the 64th minute after misfiring on a couple of good scoring chances.
Hulk goal disallowed for Handball http://t.co/wxEY2Yrn4g— Football Vines (@FootballVines) June 28, 2014
HAIL CESAR (AND BRAVO): With Chile threatening to take the lead, Cesar made the save of the game with a sprawling stop on Aranguiz in the 64th minute. But in the 84th minute, Bravo made a terrific save on his own, stopping who else but Hulk on a close-range blast to keep the game level at 1-1 through regulation. He also made another big save on Hulk in extra time – shortly after shaking off some cleats to the chest from Brazilian sub Jo.
Hail César! Brazil survives. pic.twitter.com/nk4wlZCBxK— ESPN (@espn) June 28, 2014
MAN OF THE MATCH: Cesar, Brazil – He didn’t make many saves but came through in the clutch with a performance that will be talked about for years to come.