Cesar knew he would save penalties in shootout
ROUND OF 16
(David Luiz 18)
(Alexis Sanchez 32)
- Brazil win 3-2 on penalties
Brazil goalkeeper Julio Cesar told teammates he would be the hero in a tense penalty shootout that the World Cup hosts edged against Chile this morning (Singapore time) to reach the quarter-finals.
Cesar saved efforts from Mauricio Pinilla and Alexis Sanchez, as Brazil won the shootout 3-2 after the last-16 match had ended 1-1 after extra time.
"Before the penalties Julio said, 'Hit them with confidence and I'll stop three'," Brazil captain Thiago Silva said.
"It was preordained. Chile are a great team, but we found strength. The most important thing is that the group are united, independent of any mistakes."
The penalties came after a tense match in which both teams had chances to win.
Chile rattled the bar in the final minute in extra-time and Brazilian midfielder Luiz Gustavo said that let-off gave his team belief.
"A shot like that, you imagine lots of things, the dream of millions of Brazilians ending like that," he told Sportv.
"But we drew strength from it, and now we know it will get harder and harder. We did it and we gave a little bit of joy to Brazilians."
Silva said the match, played in front of a passionate crowd at the Mineirao Stadium in Belo Horizonte, was a unique moment for Brazil's inexperienced side.
"We suffered, we know Chile would push us back and they deserve credit," he said.
"We know they are very mobile and that made it hard for me and David (Luiz), especially him with his sore back. He was a warrior today, and that shows the strength and the unity we have.
"It is going to get harder. We have three games to realise our dreams and the dreams of Brazilians."
The aftermath of Brazil's dramatic penalty-shootout victory drew a gamut of contrasting emotions from the Selecao players.
Neymar, who scored the decisive penalty kick, fell to his knees and prayed.
Luiz raced towards coach Luiz Felipe Scolari on the touchline.
But none were more tangibly heartfelt than the tears of Cesar.
Four years ago, the goalkeeper drew the wrath of a nation.
His failed clearance in the World Cup quarter-finals against Holland led to a Felipe Melo own goal and Brazil's elimination from the tournament.
One of the enduring memories of the 2010 tournament in South Africa is of Cesar weeping uncontrollably as his teammates sought to console him.
This morning, there were again tears from the former Inter Milan stopper. But, this time, they were of joy and relief.
"Only God knows what my family and I went through then and what I continue to go through now," an elated Cesar said after this morning's match.
Cesar was given another chance under Scolari early last year. But new doubts emerged in January when he joined Toronto FC on loan after falling out of favour at Queens Park Rangers.
Cesar admitted that Scolari had taken a risk by keeping him as Brazil's first choice in goal. Now he has every intention of repaying the coach's faith.
"My story with the national team hasn't finished," Cesar said.
"There are three (World Cup) matches left. I hope I can then have another interview - a happy one - with all of Brazil celebrating." - Wire Services.