Cesar the hero as nervous Brazil sink Chile on penalties
By Karolos and Grohmann
BELO HORIZONTE Brazil (Reuters) - Brazil goalkeeper Julio Cesar kept the hosts' hopes of World Cup glory alive on Saturday, saving two spot-kicks in a shootout against Chile to send them into the last eight 3-2 on penalties following a pulsating 1-1 draw after extra time.
Four years to the day since Brazil eliminated Chile at the same stage of the 2010 tournament, they did it again when Gonzalo Jara crashed his spot-kick against the post after Cesar had twice denied the battling Chileans.
Man-of-the-match Cesar, heavily criticized four years ago after Brazil's World Cup exit to the Netherlands, also made an outstanding save in the second half of normal time as the five-times champions moved unconvincingly into a quarter-final against Uruguay or Colombia.
David Luiz had put Brazil ahead after 18 minutes but Alexis Sanchez equalized for battling Chile before halftime and the host nation watched with bated breath as Brazil were on the brink of elimination after Willian and Hulk had failed to convert their spot-kicks.
Fortunately for Brazil, Cesar also saved penalties from Mauricio Pinilla and Alexis before Jara's doomed attempt.
"It was complicated," Cesar said. "The pressure of representing Brazil and playing at home is really great. We played well in the first half but after Chile equalized they got into the game."
"My team mates gave me support and strength. My big dream is that Brazil have a party," said the keeper after helping avoid Brazil's first home defeat in a competitive game since 1975.
For Chile it was a bitter end to a promising World Cup after beating holders Spain in the group stage to cement their status as tournament dark horses. Continued...