June 30, 2014 07:48
Powerhouse Brazil barely escaped elimination from the World Cup Saturday, while Colombia subdued an Uruguayan team that competed without one of its best players.
In the opening match of the round of 16, also known as the knockout round, Brazil beat Chile in a dramatic game decided by a penalty kick.
The teams were tied, 1-1, after 90 minutes of play and 30 minutes of overtime, before going to 2-2 in the penalty shootout.
Brazilian superstar Neymar then faked out Chilean goalkeeper Claudio Bravo to find the back of the net, while a shot by Chile's Arturo Vidal hit the post. Penalty sessions are a best of five, but the game goes to sudden death if the teams are tied after five rounds.
◆ Cesar Clutch in Shootout
Brazil's goalie Julio Cesar was nearly impenetrable in the shootout. He stopped Chile's first two shots, staying near the middle of the goal to block Mauricio's Pinilla's attempt, then diving to deflect Alexis Sanchez's kick. He also dove on Vidal's attempt and watched as it bounced away.
"I just kept my focus; that's all I had to do," Cesar said.
Cesar also made a key save that prevented Chile from taking the lead in the 65th minute.
"Cesar deserves all the credit today," Neymar said.
Brazil nearly lost to Chile in the final seconds of overtime, but Pinilla's shot ricocheted off the crossbar.
Both goals came in the first half of the match, played in Belo Horizonte.
Brazilian defender David Luiz tipped the ball over the line in the 18th minute, although television replays suggested the final touch may have come off Chilean defender Gonzalo Jara. Chile's Alexis Sanchez scored the equalizer in minute 32, taking advantage of a sloppy pass to angle a shot past Cesar.
Brazil, which is seeking an unprecedented sixth World Cup title and is the consensus favorite to win again this year, will play Colombia in the World Cup quarterfinals on July 4.
◆ Colombia to First Quarterfinals
Colombia's 2-0 victory over Uruguay in Rio de Janeiro secured its first ever trip to the quarterfinals. Colombia's James Rodriguez scored two goals, one in each half, against an Uruguayan team that played without star striker Luis Suarez.
Suarez was banned from nine international matches and from all football-related activities for four months for biting an Italian player in group competition. FIFA, the governing body for international football, also fined Suarez $112,000.
It was the harshest punishment ever imposed for an on-field incident at the World Cup. But Uruguay's coach Oscar Tabarez did not blame the suspension of Suarez and the controversy triggered by his bite of Italian player Giorgio Chiellini for the loss to Colombia, which won all three of its group matches.
"I don't know what energy we could have lost on Suarez," Tabarez said. "We accepted he was suspended, we criticized the excessive harshness of the sanction, and that is the feeling of an entire people."
Tabarez praised Colombia for the win.
"When you face an opponent that does certain things better than you, [you] have to accept that," he said. "So we accept defeat, congratulate our opponent and wish them well, as a South American team, for the rest of the tournament."
There are two knockout round games on Sunday. The Netherlands, which won all three of its matches in group competition to emerge as one of the most impressive teams thus far, plays Mexico in Fortaleza. Costa Rica faces Mexico in Recife.
In addition to the Netherlands and Colombia, Belgium and Argentina won their three group games.
Unlike the group round, teams must win to advance in the knockout stage. Ties are followed by 30 minutes of overtime separated into two 15-minute periods and then, if needed, a shootout. The championship game is on July 13 in Rio de Janeiro.
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