Brazil squeaks past Chile, next up: Colombia

Associated PressJune 28, 2014 

BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil -- 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."

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.

Instead, Brazil survived to move into a quarterfinal match against Colombia, which beat Uruguay 2-0 with James Rodriguez scoring twice.

Brazil has reached the quarterfinals of each World Cup since it was knocked out by Argentina in the second round in 1990. Elimination 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.

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 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.

Colombia 2, Uruguay 0: James Rodriguez scored one of the best goals of the tournament and then added a second as Colombia beat Uruguay to advance into the World Cup quarterfinals for the first time.

Rodriguez gave his team the lead with a stunning long-range volley as he turned in the 28th minute and netted the second from close range shortly after halftime as Colombia dominated a Uruguay side that sorely missed banned striker Luis Suarez.

Rodriguez now has a tournament-leading five goals in Brazil and further enhanced his status as perhaps the tournament's biggest revelation.

Uruguay struggled in attack without Suarez and his replacement Diego Forlan was substituted in the 53rd after a disappointing performance in what was probably his final World Cup appearance.

Colombia will play Brazil in the quarterfinals on July 4 in Fortaleza after the tournament hosts beat Chile in a penalty shootout.

Rodriguez showed once again that the Brazilians have every reason to be wary.

The opener was his most spectacular goal yet. He chested the ball down with his back to goal well outside the area and in one fluid motion turned around and fired a left-foot volley that went off the underside of the crossbar and into the net.

His second was a perfectly executed team move as Colombia worked the ball over from the right flank to the left, where Pablo Armero sent in a cross that was met by Juan Cuadrado at the far post. Cuadrado headed back across goal toward Rodriguez, who slotted in from just a few yards (meters) out.

In the end Uruguay simply couldn't cope without Suarez, who was banned for four months for biting an opponent in the group-stage victory against Italy.

Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez rated Rodriguez's first among the "the great goals of this World Cup."

"From what I've seen so far, James is the best player in the World Cup," he said. "I hope he shows further progress because he is so young . and football needs these great players to give a better show."

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