SAO PAULO, (Reuters) – Brazilians rejoiced yesterday when their nervy team edged past Chile to book a place in the World Cup quarter-finals in a nail-biting penalty shootout after the game finished 1-1 following extra time.
The reaction was more relief than jubilation, after a pulsating match in which both sides attacked at pace but failed to convert their chances once Chile striker Alexis Sanchez had cancelled out David Luiz’s opener in the 32nd minute.
Brazil’s players cried for joy after Gonzalo Jara’s spot kick bounced back off the upright to send them through 3-2 on penalties, prompting nationwide celebrations across the country as the team remain on course for a record sixth title.
“Four years ago I gave an interview, very upset, very sad,” said Brazil goalkeeper Julio Cesar, referring to Brazil’s quarter-final exit to the Netherlands at the 2010 World Cup.
“I will repeat it again, but this time I am happy,” added the man of the match, struggling to keep his emotions in check.
“Only God knows, and my family, what I went through. My team mates gave me support and strength. My big dream is that Brazil have a party,” added the keeper who saved two shootout penalties.
Only lifting the trophy in Rio de Janeiro on July 13 will be enough to satisfy Brazil’s expectant fans, and they next face either Colombia or Uruguay in another Latin American clash that underlines the region’s domination of the tournament so far.
For Chile, the team’s tears were shed in the despair of going out for a fourth time to their World Cup nemesis, especially when the margin between victory and defeat in Belo Horizonte had been so narrow.
In the final minute of extra time, Chile’s Mauricio Pinilla rattled the crossbar with a fierce shot, but Cesar saved spot-kicks from Pinilla and Alexis before Jara missed and the hosts went through to the last eight.
SUAREZ “SHOWED NO REMORSE”
The knowledge that they matched Brazil over 120 minutes of high-paced, if not always fluent, football will do little to ease the pain for Chile.
“We played Spain, the Netherlands and Brazil, and we were no worse than any of them,” said keeper and captain Claudio Bravo.
“We feel very frustrated because we could have wrapped the match up long before. We had clear chances to wrap it. What else can we say now?”
In the other last 16 match yesterday, Colombia meet Uruguay at Rio de Janeiro’s Maracana stadium.
Drama on the pitch was again the focus after the last four days had been dominated by Uruguay striker Luis Saurez’s bite on an Italian defender that saw him banned for nine competitive games, the heaviest penalty handed out during a World Cup.
He has also been barred from any football activity for four months, a punishment many people, including Giorgio Chiellini whom he bit, believe is excessive.
An internal FIFA document seen by Reuters yesterday said that soccer’s world governing body handed out the heavy punishment because Suarez showed no remorse for the incident and previous bans had not changed his behaviour.
He had twice been banned for biting before.
“At no time did the player show any kind of remorse or admit to any violation of FIFA rules and therefore showed no awareness of having committed any infraction,” the FIFA document said.
The same document included excerpt’s of Suarez’s explanation of the event, in which he said his initial contact with Chiellini caused him to lose balance and fall on the Italian.
“Then, my face hit the player, leaving me with a bruise and a lot of pain in my teeth… That is what happened and at no point did anything happen that can be described as ‘biting’ or trying to bite,” Suarez was quoted as saying.