Penalties are Chile's Nemesis as Brazil Squeeze Through
Story of the game
Even before proceedings were properly underway, the battle picked up pace and intensity as the national anthems were roared by both sides. Chile first sang past the Brazilian boos before we witnessed the hosts produce another rousing display, evoking tremendous passion fit for a medieval battle.
This was quickly translated to a fast-paced and rather hard-fought start. Charles Aranguiz was at the centre of two incidents of note, firstly being caught late by Fernandinho, and then carrying out a foul himself on the mercurial Neymar. The Brazilian hero took a relatively heavy knock from the incident and needed more than just the magic sponge to alleviate the lingering pain, eventually managing to run off the knock after a few minutes of deep concern among the crowd.
After the game settled into more of a rhythm, Brazil played with a fervour that reflected the nation’s belief. Luis Gustavo looked a threat running from a deep-lying position but the best run came from Neymar who of course beat player after player until he nearly set up Fernandinho.
In the 18th minute, the breakthrough came, and the source was one that had been brought up before the match. Chile had a significant height disadvantage and so from a Neymar corner on the left, Thiago Silva managed to out-jump his marker to flick the ball on. There he found the knee of David Luiz and while the finish was hardly the cleanest you will ever see, lift-off was achieved.
The match became a scrappy affair thereafter, with both niggling and wild challenges coming into play. Fernandinho was lucky to get away without a caution but soon after his latest of 3 fouls in quick succession, Chile broke down the right after stealing a Brazilian throw-in and neatly fed the ball into Alexis Sanchez. Taking the ball into his stride well, he proceeded to almost pass the ball into the bottom corner of the net, just managing to slot it past the right glove of Julio César.
Just as the clocked ticked over into first half injury time, Brazil gave the ball away when attempting to play out from the back. Instantly, Eduardo Vargas was released into a pocket of space in the area but the covering duo of Silva and Luiz were just able to force the ball away for a corner. At the interval therefore, it was all tied up at 1-1 after a breathtakingly pacey half of football laced with quality and desire in equal portions.
The second period began in much the same way as possession changed hands quickly in a continually end to end affair. An exceptionally controversial moment came less than 10 minutes into the second half when Hulk collected a cross-field pass on his chest and fortunately slipped the ball into the same corner as Sanchez in the first half. Celebration ensued until it was realised that Howard Webb’s assistant Mike Malarkey indicated of a hand-ball by Hulk in the build-up. As you can imagine, Brazil were furious and following replays, you certainly have sympathy with that line of opinion. The ball seemed to hit Hulk’s shoulder at the same time as his upper arm and just to add insult to injury, the Brazilian number 7 was booked for his alleged action.
Just after the hour mark, Julio César had to show very strong wrists to block a vicious strike from Charles Aranguiz. Neat work on the right flank between Isla and Sanchez produced a cut-back for Aranguiz who could not beat Brazil’s goalkeeper at his near post despite the ferocity of the attempt.
A brilliant block and attempted pressure by Eugenio Mena was just enough to deter Jo with just over a quarter of an hour to play. A left-wing cross split the goalkeeper and the defence perfectly and only a last-ditch effort by Mena that went unnoticed by the officials could deny an almost certain goal.
Just as the clock ticked over to 10 minutes to go, Neymar had his best chance of the half as he found himself between two Chilean centre-halves after an uncharacteristic long ball. He could only direct his header straight at Claudio Bravo however, and the chance was gone, leaving the game locked in a draw and seemingly destined for extra time. Shortly after, a jinking run by Hulk opened up space for a right foot shot and despite this being on his weaker side, it forced a good save from Bravo who parried the ball away and out of immediate danger. This was the final seriously clear opening before the final whistle and the game did indeed enter into 30 minutes of extra time.
The first half of this very much belonged to Brazil as Chile’s exertions began to take their toll. The hosts dominated possession of the ball and were able to create a few openings. Hulk especially began to come into his own in these closing stages as tiredness caused a little extra space to open up for him. Claudio Bravo however was still not overly exerted and only had to pull off saves that you would expect him to make.
As the last 15 minutes progressed, Chile retreated further into their shell and shut up shop completely. Brazil continued to pile on the pressure but could make no breakthrough. Chilean players were dropping like flies from the effects of cramp and a thigh complaint forced the pitbull Gary Medel off. With penalties looming, Chile were so close to knocking Brazil out; in fact only the width of the cross bar away. Pinilla thundered his shot against the bar and a Brazil counter attack was sparked where heroic defending came out on top. Finally, Howard Webb blew for full time and penalties were confirmed.
First up was David Luiz for Brazil, who has had mixed fortunes in penalty shoot-outs. A long run up to the ball and a clean strike resulted in Brazil striking first.
Chile’s starter was substitute Mauricio Pinilla. A poor penalty straight down the middle was saved by César giving the first advantage to Brazil.
A stuttering run-up by Willian sent the ball skewing wide of the left-hand upright, instantly giving Chile the chance to respond.
Alexis Sanchez took on the responsibility and again, a rather poor penalty that was slightly further towards the corner this time was again saved by César.
Marcelo confidently struck his penalty into the back of the net to make it 2-0 to Brazil.
Charles Aranguiz hit an emphatic penalty into the roof of the net past a motionless César to give Chile some hope.
Hulk hit Brazil’s fourth penalty fairly central and low down and Bravo’s antics out-foxed the bulky Brazilian.
It was left to Diaz to level up the scores in the shoot-out and by sending César the wrong way, the ball found its way into the net.
Brazil’s idol and poster boy had the fifth penalty and had such responsibility on his shoulders. The most stop start of run-ups seemed to do the trick as he calmly stroked the ball into the net.
Gonzalo Jara; released by Nottingham Forest, was tasked with keeping Chile in the World Cup and sadly for the player himself, struck the ball towards César’s right but smacked into the post.
Chile were admirable, heroic, and possibly didn’t deserve to lose. In fact, neither team really deserved to lose with both being an absolute credit to themselves and the competition. Chile will leave many excellent memories in the minds of every observer and have to be thought of as serious competitors for future World Cups. In the end though, the hosts going through was vital for the tournament and looking back, they may see the progression past the adversity as the moment they began to truly believe.
Brazil: César, Alves, Silva (capt), Luiz, Marcelo, Gustavo, Fernandinho (Ramires – 72’), Oscar (Willian – 105’), Hulk, Neymar, Fred (Jo – 64’).
Chile: Bravo (capt), Isla, Silva, Medel (Rojas – 108’), Jara, Mena, Aranguiz, Vidal (Pinilla – 87’), Diaz, Vargas (Gutierrez – 57’), Sanchez.
1. Julio César – 7. Commanding during the match itself and was the hero of the penalty shoot-out; pulling of 2 saves of the 5 he faced.
2. Dani Alves – 5. One of the poorer games he has played in the tournament and there is an argument that Maicon should replace him. Mena was often in space behind him and other than one long distance effort, he didn’t create a great deal.
3. Thiago Silva – 7. Old-school defending was required at times and he was certainly not afraid to oblige. His important flick made the first goal and he remained solid when faced with the trickery of Chilean forwards.
4. David Luiz – 6. One of the more defensively solid displays that you will see from Luiz and he dispatched his penalty with great confidence. He was a little rash at times however and you always feel he has a clanger in him.
6. Marcelo – 6. A couple of good forays towards the opposition box and did threaten, but like his fellow full-back, he was suspect defensively on occasion, with Chile’s equaliser coming under his watch.
17. Luis Gustavo – 7. Began the game in swashbuckling style, very much further forward than his deep-lying role. Many important interventions were a stark reminder how badly he will be missed because of the suspension he picked up in this match.
5. Fernandinho – 6. A combative display where he more than put himself about and often trod a thin line between forceful and excessive challenges. A knock he developed mid-way through the second half was a contributing factor to his withdrawal with a little less than 20 minutes of normal time remaining.
11. Oscar – 6. Worked hard and was often able to provide that extra man in midfield to defend against Chilean thrusts. However, he couldn’t add the incision that we have seen in the group matches.
7. Hulk – 7. Much maligned in this World Cup, this was undoubtedly his best game yet. Powerful runs a plenty and a couple of testing shots made him at many stages Brazil’s greatest threat. At one stage he even had the ball in the net but the goal was controversially ruled out for handball.
10. Neymar – 6. His runs and skills in the first half were nothing less than frightening, but he faded massively after the interval. The space he thrives upon was closed up and so he lost effectiveness. However, his high pressure penalty was confidence personified that eventually proved to be the one to send Brazil through.
9. Fred – 4. Yet another performance to add to a catalogue this World Cup that make you wonder why he continually retains Phil Scolari’s faith as his starter up front. Made no moves to receive the ball and had a greater effect in his own box when clearing from corners.
21. Jo – 5. He wasn’t as blatantly ineffectual as Fred, but didn’t offer much more. He missed 2 close range chances that could have won the game before penalties; one with his right foot and one with his head.
16. Ramires – 5. He was brought on to reinforce Brazil’s midfield and bring the legs to join the attack, and while he did put himself about, he didn’t influence the match as much as Scolari would have liked.
19. Willian – N/A.
1. Claudio Bravo – 7. Held off Brazil’s attacks in the second half and stopped some decent goal-bound efforts from Hulk in particular. He wasn’t quite able to pull off penalty shoot-out heroics equivalent to César but he didn’t let anyone down.
4. Mauricio Isla – 6. In the first half, he wasn’t able to offer much protection to Francisco Silva, instead being more effective in the attacking third. Chile solidified after the interval and so although he didn’t then offer as much going forward, they were tighter in defence on the right.
5. Francisco Silva – 6. Spotted as a weakness in the first half by Neymar and was beaten time and time again initially, but managed somehow to strengthen up in the second period and Neymar became a much more withdrawn figure.
17. Gary Medel – 7. A warrior-like display where he showed nothing less than utter commitment. Rarely caught out by Brazil’s supreme attacking talent and so he and all of Chile were distraught when a thigh injury forced him off in extra time.
18. Gonzalo Jara – 6. Perhaps stood out the least of the Chilean back line, but he didn’t look like a player without a club. He was the player who missed the crucial penalty but this shouldn’t mar an otherwise solid performance.
2. Eugenio Mena – 8. Terrific all game, never once stopping working up and down. He got back to make covering challenges and was frequently the out-ball for Chile, relieving pressure and setting up attacks.
20. Charles Aranguiz – 8. A complete performance by one of the most complete midfielders at the World Cup, even followed up by an emphatic penalty. Strong with both feet and equally capable of putting in a last-ditch tackle as he is a cutting through ball, the top European clubs will surely be looking closely at him after displays such as this.
8. Arturo Vidal – 8. Popped up absolutely everywhere on the pitch; supporting his strikers, closing down in midfield, and tracking back in defence. He was even used as somewhat of a target man at points and won his fair share in the air. He didn’t seem to let tiredness affect him but the coach did feel the need to bring him off with only 3 minutes remaining.
21. Marcelo Diaz – 7. Dubbed the ‘South American Xavi’, he did nothing to dissuade any onlookers. Calm in possession and equally adept at finding a longer pass, the only area of his game to let him down was his shooting.
11. Eduardo Vargas – 6. Much quieter than his usual self but his closing down and determination did get him away into space on occasion. The potential he had shown to hurt Brazil meant that Silva and Luiz must have breathed a sigh of relief when he was replaced early in the second half.
7. Alexis Sanchez – 8. You could not have found a forward with a more stark contrast to Fred, as Alexis Sanchez never stopped running all day, demonstrating outstanding quality in forward areas and desire further back. He ran the game from his position up front.
16. Felipe Gutierrez – 6. Played in between the lines and assisted Sanchez with the job of closing down. Kept the ball neatly enough and allowed the side to continue their style.
9. Mauricio Pinilla – 6. Helped out defending set plays after he came on but most notably, he had a terrific effort from the edge of the area in the final minutes of extra time that thundered against the cross bar. He did however have his penalty saved.
13. José Rojas – N/A.
Man of the Match
Alexis Sanchez may have been on the losing side, but it was certainly not down to a lack of effort or ability on his part. Even aside from the smart control and partnering finish to snatch Chile’s equaliser, he was a constant threat to the entire of Brazil’s defence. Far from just working between the borders of the 18 yard box, he could often be found spinning out wide or dropping deep and taking on players from these positions. You can clearly see why Barcelona signed him and why he is on the shopping lists for so many of Europe’s top clubs. His desire to work, hassle, and harry is invaluable for his side and when you can combine that with outstanding ability that can easily be the difference between teams, you have quite a player. The combination that Sanchez has been able to build up with Vargas and Vidal for his national side is something that his manager will be looking to echo for sure.