By Tony Ubani
Hosts Brazil escaped defeat by the whiskers after they were stretched by Chile in 120 minutes of football that produced tension and equal amount of drama. And in the ensuring shoot-out, it was Brazil that triumphed winning the match 3-2 penalty in Belo Horizonte
Brazil got off on bright note with David Luiz’s 18th minute goal after Thiago Silva deflected Neymar’s corner kick toward the far post. Luiz was given the goal but Chile defender Gonzalo Jara may have touched the ball before it went in.
Chile equalized in the 32nd minute after Eduardo Vargas intercepted Hulk’s pass and found Alexis Sanchez, who scored from the right side of the penalty area with a shot toward the far post.
It proved a frantic first half with chances at both ends, and while Brazil, and Neymar in particular, had the lion’s share, they were unable to find the killer touch required to restore their advantage. Fred passed up perhaps the best chance on 40 minutes, blazing over with the goal gaping after a loose ball had fallen into his path.
Hulk thought he put Brazil ahead 10 minutes into the second half but referee Howard Webb disallowed the goal, ruling that Hulk took down a long pass with his arm. He had earlier denied Hulk a penalty.
The game went to extra time, but the pattern of the match changed little, with Luiz Felipe Scolari’s men on the front foot for the most part but struggling to carve out clear chances.
La Roja came close to snatching it in the dying seconds of extra time when Mauricio Pinilla crashed a shot against the crossbar, but the match was decided by a shootout and the hosts made it through for their seventh successive quarterfinal.
Julio Cesar saved from both Mauricio Pinilla and Alexis Sanchez either side of a Willian miss to put Brazil in charge, but Claudio Bravo blocked Hulk’s effort. However, after Neymar had converted, Gonzalo Jara hit the post with the final penalty to send the hosts through.