Brazil secured a dramatic penalty shootout win against Chile to reach the last eight and set up an all-South American quarter-final against Colombia.
Brazil 1(3) - 1(2) Chile
David Luiz 18′ Alexis Sanchez 32′
(David Luiz, Marcelo, Neymar) (Diaz, Aranguiz)
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 capitalizing 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.
But then Brazil were stunned. Chile struck back. And it was down to sloppy play by Marcelo and Hulk and a cool finish from Sánchez. Brazil took a throw-in, Hulk’s return ball to Marcelo was lazily short and Eduardo Vargas stole possession to pick out Sánchez who took one touch and, as Silva tried to block, stroked a low shot beyond Cesar.
After that, however, Brazil again began to take ascendancy. The likes of Oscar and Hulk tried to exploit their height advantage by sending in cross after cross.
It was during this period that one of Brazil’s huge weakness came to fore- lack of creativity through the middle. With Oscar out wide and Neymar drifting all over the pitch, there was no one capable of creating anything through the center. Fernandinho may have scored against Cameroon, arguably the worst side at the tournament, but he was unable to produce anything against Chile. All of Brazil’s attacks came through the flanks or through Davis Luiz punting a long ball forward.
In the end, there was nothing to separate these two sides in 90 minutes. As extra time loomed closer, Sampaoli realized that Chile’s playing style—fast, aggressive counters, intricate movements and furious pressing—is not cut out for 120 minutes and penalties. Thus, he instructed his players to sit deep, soak up pressure and launch counter attacks through the pace Sanchez. This approach worked as the Selecao, despite controlling majority of the possession, were unable to break down the resolute Chilean defense. In fact, it was Chile who came closest to winning the game in the second last minute of extra time. From a quick counter, Sanchez played through Pinilla and his wicked shot came of the cross bar with Ceasar completely beaten.
Eventually, the game had to settled through Penalties. Goalkeeper Julio Cesar was the hero, making two crucial spot-kick saves from Mauricio Pinilla and Alexis Sanchez. However, both Willian and Hulk failed to score heating things up again. Neymar sent Brazil ahead 3-2 and Jara had to score to keep Chile in the game. His shot, however hit the post and the stadium erupted. Brazil went into the last eight and those scenes at the end were simply astonishing. There were tears, there were floods of tears: tears of relief from Brazil, tears of anguish from Chile, the self-confessed rebels of this World Cup who fought and fought and who almost sacked the ultimate prize.