Brazil are through into the World Cup quarterfinals after an incredible penalty shootout win over Chile in Belo Horizonte. An incredibly tight game went right to the wire, with Gonzalo Jara's penalty miss sending the Roja out, and the Seleção through.
The game was rather scrappy in its opening exchanges, though it didn't take long for Brazil to assert themselves as the greater attacking threat. By the time they took the lead they'd already gone close through a Marcelo attempt from the edge of the box, and had a good penalty shout turned down after Hulk was tripped by Mauricio Isla.
It took just 18 minutes before the opening goal came, and unsurprisingly it was the result of Brazil capitalising on their big height advantage on a set piece. A corner from Neymar was flicked on by Thiago Silva at the near post, and conveniently right into the path of a lurking David Luiz. Despite pressure from Gonzalo Jara, the defender poked the ball into an empty net to break the deadlock.
Brazil looked fairly comfortable after taking the lead, and largely coped with Chile's high pressing with dangerous long balls up to Neymar. That was until Hulk made a catastrophic giveaway in his own third just past the half-hour, which allowed Alexis Sánchez to pounce on a loose ball in the penalty area and slot past Júlio César for 1-1.
The hosts reacted well to the equaliser, and could have been back ahead by halftime. Neymar headed an Oscar cross wide via a deflection, before the ever-unimpressive Fred fired over from point-blank range. Their most spectacular attempt came courtesy of the uncharacteristically quiet fullback Dani Alves, with his swerving effort from distance tipped over by Claudio Bravo.
Brazil continued to look dangerous after the restart, and they thought they'd taken the lead within 10 minutes of play resuming. A long ball forward was brought down and scuffed home by Hulk, only for referee Howard Webb to disallow the goal for handball. It was an extremely tight call, and one that wasn't going to make Webb any more popular with the home supporters.
The decision seemed to deflate the Seleção, with the tempo in their play dropping noticeably in its aftermath. It allowed Chile to create their best chance since taking the lead, though Júlio César got down to deny Charles Aránguiz with an outstanding reaction save at his near post. Brazil did manage to come up with a response with just over 15 minutes remaining, though substitute Jô somehow manage to scuff Hulk's cross wide when practically on the goal line.
With the clock ticking on Chile seemed to be tiring, with their intense pressing giving way to a more standoffish approach. Brazil looked to take advantage, and very nearly did with just 10 minutes remaining. Hulk beat a couple of opponents before lashing a vicious shot towards the top corner, only for Bravo to tip the ball over with a superb save. With no goal forthcoming, extra time beckoned.
The first few minutes came and went with little in the way of goalmouth action, save for Bravo taking one of Jô's boots to his neck in an inadvertent collision. Fortunately the Chile goalkeeper was safe to continue, and was called into action on a powerful low effort from his nemesis Hulk on the edge of the box in the final few minutes of the first period.
The second was no more exciting, but no less tense. Both sides looked understandably nervous, as if sapped of all energy by the grim inevitability of penalties. However, a momentary lapse in concentration by Brazil allowed Chile substitute Mauricio Pinilla to strike a fierce effort towards goal, only for it to rocket back off Júlio César's crossbar. A let-off, but not for long. A penalty shootout was the order of the day.
The tension in Belo Horizonte could be cut with a knife. Brazil goalkeeper Júlio César was literally in tears. But his team went into the lead by a remarkably cool first penalty from Luiz. César then kept out Chile's first penalty, with Pinilla's central penalty comfortably saved. It was a lead that should have been wiped out when Willian scuffed his penalty wide, though César kept out Sánchez's spot-kick to keep Brazil ahead.
Brazil vs. Chile
Marcelo doubled Brazil's advantage with his penalty, despite Bravo getting a palm to the shot, though Aránguiz's fearless strike into the top corner ensured things were still very tight when Hulk stepped up next. Hulk couldn't convert, with Bravo diving to keep out his central spot-kick. The miss handed Marcelo Díaz the chance to level things up for Chile, and he did so with aplomb. Sudden death ensued.
Tournament posterboy Neymar was the man tasked with hitting the net for Brazil, and he did so remarkably coolly after a stuttered run-up. That meant Jara needed to score to keep Chile in the competition, though his penalty agonisingly kissed the post before heading wide. Brazil headed through by the narrowest of margins, and Chile are heading home.
Brazil: César; Marcelo, Luiz, Silva, Alves; Gustavo, Fernandinho (Ramires 72'); Hulk, Neymar, Oscar (Willian 106'); Fred (Jô 64')
Goals: Luiz (18').
Chile: Bravo; Jara, Medel (Rojas 108'), Silva; Mena, Díaz, Aránguiz, Isla; Vidal (Pinilla 87'); Vargas (Gutiérrez 57'), Sánchez.
Goals: Sánchez (32').