Brazil advanced to the World Cup quarterfinals on Saturday with a 3-2 shootout win over Chile following a tense and thrilling battle that ended 1-1 after extra time.
Neymar, David Luiz and Marcelo scored in the shootout, and Brazil goalkeeper Julio Cesar saved two penalties before watching Gonzalo Jara’s final attempt hit the post.
“My teammates are giving me a lot of strength on the field so I give my best,” Cesar said. “We’re just three steps away and I hope to give another interview with Brazil partying.”
Brazil, which extended its 39-year unbeaten streak in home competitive matches to 61, will next face either Colombia or Uruguay in the quarterfinals.
Neither team managed to score at the Mineirao Stadium after first-half goals from Luiz and Sanchez, but Brazil came close to an early exit when Mauricio Pinilla’s shot hit the crossbar in the final moments of extra time.
Chile also had the best chance in the second half, when Cesar’s spectacular save on Charles Aranguiz’s shot kept the score even.
Brazil has reached the quarterfinals of each World Cup since Argentina eliminated it in the second round in 1990. Getting knocked out at that stage in its own World Cup would have been a disaster.
But the Brazilians overcame their nerves in the shootout, with Neymar scoring the final penalty after Cesar stopped spot kicks from Pinilla and Sanchez.
When Jara hit the post, some of Brazil’s players celebrated wildly while others fell to the ground, exhausted and emotionally drained. Willian, who missed a penalty for Brazil, sobbed uncontrollably, as Fred helped him to his feet.
As the crowd roared, the Brazilian players joined hands in a human chain. The Chileans stood still, staring into the ground, wiping the sweat off their faces.
“We tried to give everything, we tried to fight for a dream, and we didn’t achieve it,” Chile midfielder Arturo Vidal said. “But we gave all our effort on the pitch.”
Calling it a “harsh” loss, Chile coach Jorge Sampaoli said he had been convinced his team would come out the winner.
“Do you think I can be satisfied with the result?” Sampaoli said. “We’ve played a hard 120 minutes even if everybody was against us in the stadium.”
Brazil went ahead in the 18th minute after Thiago Silva deflected Neymar’s corner kick toward the far post. Luiz was given the goal but replays showed Chile defender Gonzalo Jara may have touched the ball before it went in.
Brazil lost the lead when it failed to cope with Chile’s aggressive pressure in a throw-in situation deep inside Brazil’s half of the field. Eduardo Vargas intercepted Hulk’s pass and found Sanchez on the right side of the area. The Barcelona striker scored easily with a shot toward the far post.
Neymar, Fred and Dani Alves had chances in the first half while a second-half goal from Hulk was disallowed when referee Howard Webb ruled he handled the ball.
Chile has never beaten Brazil in Brazil but was hoping for another upset after eliminating defending champion Spain in the group stage.
“We played the toughest opponents in the tournament, Spain, Holland, Brazil, and we never played like a team that was weaker than anyone else,” said Chile goalkeeper Claudio Bravo, who blocked Hulk’s attempt in the shootout and watched Willian’s shot go wide.
“The truth is that we are very sad because we could have won the match before, we should have taken advantage of some good chances,” Bravo said. “We felt we could win and we didn’t.”
Brazil: Julia Cesar; Dani Alves, Thiago Silva, David Luiz, Marcelo; Luiz Gustavo, Fernandinho, Oscar; Hulk, Fred, Neymar.
Chile: Claudio Bravo; Mauricio Isla, Gary Medel, Eugenio Mena, Francisco Silva, Gonzalo Jara; Arturo Vidal, Marcelo Diaz, Charles Aranguiz; Alexis Sanchez, Eduardo Vargas.