It was a hugely dramatic night in Belo Horizonte as Brazil came out on top in a penalty shoot out, after 120 minutes of gripping football failed to separate these two South American sides.
It was Brazil who drew first blood after 18 minutes. Thiago Silva’s flick from Neymar’s in-swinging corner fizzed towards David Luiz at the back post, only for Jara, a man whose night would be filled with tragedy, to nudge the ball inadvertently into his own net.
Shortly after, Neymar, looking bright, showed great pace and trickery to burst into the Chilean box but could only drag a weak shot well wide. Brazil looked much the better side in the opening half hour, as the terrifying atmosphere created by the wonderful home support at the Estadio Mineirão seemingly overawed the Chilean players.
However, a sloppy touch after receiving a throw in, saw Hulk, who was off colour for much of the 90 minutes, gift Chile possession deep inside the Brazil half. Eduardo Vargas couldn’t believe his luck as he stole in and slid a ball to Alexis Sanchez who in turn slotted home from close range. It was a dreadful goal to concede from a Brazilian perspective, especially as they had dominated for much of the game so far.
Sanchez’ goal injected life into the Chileans who now looked far more comfortable on the ball, no longer relying on pacey counter-attacks. That said, Brazil continued to have the better of the play as a stunning ball from Oscar left Neymar again in a dangerous position inside the Chilean box. This time the young star hesitated, allowing defenders to smother the attack. Their attempted clearance, however, almost saw Fred score a lucky goal as the ball bounced off the foot of the number 9, only to fly narrowly over the crossbar.
Dani Alves’ superb swerving strike from range forced Bravo to parry the ball over his cross bar, while Fred tragically miscued one of his many off-target shots in the first half. A mistake from Luis Gustavo allowed Sanchez to play Aranguiz through on goal, only for Luiz to get back and smother his effort, conceding a corner.
That would be the final play of an exhilarating half which had plenty of chances, errors and fouls, at times threatening to boil over – Fred and Gary Medel exchanged a heated moment as they trudged off at the interval.
It was a slightly cagey start to the second half but on 55 minutes the Mineirão exploded as Marcelo’s long ball into the box found Hulk who controlled and sliced a finish across Bravo and into the bottom left corner of his net. The ecstatic Porto man wheeled away to the home support, only to realize that Howard Webb had blown his whistle, with either he or his assistant Mike Mullarkey having adjudged Hulk to have used his arm to take the ball down. After several studies of the replays from various angles, it seems that somehow, incredibly the officials made the correct decision.
The game again turned slightly more subdued and it was Chile who were having the better of the play, with Cesar forced into a superb reaction save from Aranguiz’s powerful close range effort.
Scolari felt he had to change things and hauled Fred off after yet another disappointing display. His replacement Jo almost made an instant impact but somehow failed to get any sort of a solid contact on Hulk’s wicked ball across, perhaps justifying his lack of game time for Manchester City despite his inflated price tag.
The game rather petered out and extra-time looked inevitable, despite two saves from Bravo as Neymar had a headed chance and Hulk struck from distance.
Extra-time continued in much the same vein as the second 45, but still had the odd moment of exciting individual skill, most notably as Hulk, who was the best player in this period, danced past two Chilean defenders and forced another smart stop from Bravo.
This was one of few moments of quality in the latter stages, as players inevitably tired. Jo again fluffed his lines while the equally beleaguered Pinilla, Chile’s substitute, hit a few poor shots either off-target or into defenders. However, right at the death, that man Pinilla left Brazil inches away from crashing out of their own tournament as he smashed a thunderous drive against the upper half of the crossbar, in what would be almost the final play before the shoot-out.
It was 2-2 after four penalties each, with two smart saves from Cesar, a limp attempt from Willian and the pick of the bunch from Aranguiz. It was now sudden death, and who else but Neymar would step up and take such a crucial penalty for the Brazilians? It would have surely been too cruel for him to miss and after a tricky run-up he slotted home in a fittingly cool fashion. Chile’s hopes now rested on free-agent Jara, recently released by Nottingham Forest and the man who put Brazil in front early on. His bad luck was not up, however, as he sent the Brazil players, staff and fans into raptures as his penalty cannoned back off the post.
The result was harsh on Chile, but Brazil probably deserved their victory despite their less than convincing performance. Scolari will surely need to address some pressing concerns with his side’s play, notably their low passing accuracy – Fernandinho and Luis Gustavo both culpable, and also whether Fred can really justify a place in the starting 11.
Julio Cesar – 8:
Made a stunning save from Aranguiz and was solid throughout the match. Also superb in the shoot-out.
Alves – 7:
Not always the most defensively assured but had one brilliant effort at goal and put in several dangerous crosses.
Thiago Silva – 6:
Solid on the whole but wasn’t alert to the danger for Chile’s goal. Made a few good tackles later on, though.
David Luiz – 6:
No real errors today for a man who is often guilty of sloppy defending, and would have found himself on the score-sheet had Jara not done the job for him.
Marcelo – 7:
Excellent going forward, had a chance early on and put several great balls into the box, the best of which led to the big controversy with Hulk’s alleged hand-ball.
Fernandinho – 5:
I understand why this was Scolari’s only change, as he looked impressive as a substitute against Cameroon. But the Man City man failed to make any real impact and actually gave away more fouls than he made passes in the Chile half.
Luis Gustavo – 5:
Not great in possession and guilty of giving away too many fouls, also gifted Chile a chance at the end of the first half. That said he did win the ball back importantly on a few occasions and didn’t stop running.
Oscar – 5:
Frustrating afternoon for the Chelsea man as he really didn’t see much of the ball. Did make one or two good long distance passes but was on the whole disappointing.
Hulk – 7:
Wasn’t at his best in the 90 but still threatened on occasions and was easily the best player in extra time. Was perhaps unlucky to have his goal disallowed and also could have had an assist had Jo got contact on his cross.
Neymar – 7:
Certainly Brazil’s best player in normal time but looked tired towards the end of the game. A number of moments of individual quality but was guilty of passing up a few good opportunities.
Fred – 4:
A passenger throughout the game and hit several feeble shots wide of the mark. Still don’t think he adds anything to the side and Scolari must surely be considering other options
Jo – 5: (on for Fred – 62 mins)
Not much better than the man he replaced, made little impact and scuffed a good chance.
Ramires – 6: (on for Fernandinho – 72 mins)
Was inevitably full of running when he came on and stretched Chile’s tiring midfield at times.
Willian – 6: (on for Oscar – 106 mins)
Looked fairly lively with one good cross and one good free kick in the dying minutes of the match. Could have done more though.
Bravo – 8:
My choice for man of the match, with a string of superb saves he kept Chile in the game at times. By no means at fault for the goal, either.
Isla – 7:
Looked solid defensively and also got forward well.
Silva – 7:
Strong in defence and made a number of important blocks.
Mena – 5:
The least assured of Chile’s defenders as he was beaten far too often by Neymar and struggled when Marcelo got forward.
Medel – 6:
A typically combative display from the Cardiff man, with a number of characteristically strong tackles a few of which actually saw him get the ball.
Jara – 5:
Mercilessly unlucky both with the own goal and the penalty miss. Was generally solid for the rest of the game but no doubt a game to forget for him.
Vidal – 7:
He’s the man who makes Chile tick, and he started off a number off attacks with pinpoint passes. They didn’t look the same side after he went off.
Vargas – 6:
Looked dangerous on occasions but was subbed off before what was probably Chile’s best period.
Aranguiz – 7:
Always looked to get involved and had two good chances; the first saw a good block from Luis and the second forced a stunning save from Cesar.
Sanchez – 8:
A constant threat on the counter in the first half and showed his quality throughout the match. Finished his only clear-cut opportunity with typical precision.
Diaz – 6:
Had some good link up play with Sanchez and Aranguiz but blasted a few shots and a free kick way off target. Failed to carve out any real chances.
Gutierrez – 5: (on for Vargas – 55 mins)
Given plenty of time to make an impact did little to impress.
Pinilla – 6: (on for Vidal – 87 mins)
Was generally wasteful but was a few inches away from sealing a famous victory with a fabulous effort right at the end of the game.
Rojas – 5: (on for Medel – 108 mins)
Not really given long but barely touched the ball.