Goalkeeper saves Brazil from World Cup ouster

Brazil's goalkeeper Julio Cesar was the hero of Saturday's match between Brazil and Chile. Thanks to Cesar, Brazil advances to the World Cup quarter finals.

REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger
Brazil's goalkeeper Julio Cesar (top R) celebrates with teammates after Chile's Gonzalo Jara (unseen) misses the decisive penalty shot during the penalty shootout in their 2014 World Cup round of 16 soccer game at the Mineirao stadium in Belo Horizonte June 28, 2014.

An entire nation held its breath for almost 121 minutes on Saturday as Brazil teetered on the brink of elimination from the 2014 World Cup.

But Brazil's goalkeeper Julio Cesar made two critical saves in a tie-breaker shoot out, saving the host team.

After the two clutch Cesar saves, the Chilean team didn't lose heart. It came back and tied the shoot out. Then Brazilian striker Neymar stepped up, stutter-stepped, and buried the ball in the back of the net.

Chile had one more chance to again tie the shoot out. But Gonzalo Jara dinged it off the post. And one nation erupted in joy, while another South American team went home.

But Chile leaves the World Cup with its head held high, having given the Brazilians an epic battle.

Brazil scored first on what appeared to be an own goal by Chile's Gonzalo Jara, but was credited to David Luiz. At the 32-minute mark, Chile's Alexis Sanchez tied the game up after some sloppy play by Brazil off a throw-in at their own end of the field.

At the 55th minute, it appeared that Brazil's Hulk (Givanildo Vieira de Souza) had scored. But the referee ruled a hand ball, and yellow carded Hulk, after he brought the ball under control with his upper arm - not his shoulder.

Brazil took shot after shot in the second half, but there was an air of desperation to their play. Chile's goalkeeper, Claudio Bravo, made some great saves and Brazil just couldn't find the net.

For Brazil's Cesar, today was a far cry from the 2010 World Cup. Back then, he went from being considered the No. 1 keeper in the world to the nation's scapegoat after he failed to clear a cross in the quarterfinal against The Netherlands. Brazil was eliminated. Afterward, Cesar says he considered quitting the sport. Due to contract disputes he found himself without a professional team. He was reduced to visiting a local park to play, just to get some practice. He eventually landed a spot with Toronto FC, the only team that wanted him.

“During bad times you have to try to find some positive things, and I did. It wasn’t only the elimination against the Netherlands, I also had to deal with problems at Inter Milan and then at Queens Park Rangers. I needed to find a lot of strength to come back.”

“I became a better professional after the 2010 World Cup,” he told The Associated Press last month. “When things are going your way, you end up relaxing a little bit more. I was very confident in 2010 because of everything that had happened until then, and I think that too much confidence can hurt. Now I can say that from personal experience.”

Cesar emerged from today's win over Chile as a hero. And it's safe to say that after his experience in 2010, he won't let it go to his head.

Brazil advances to the quarterfinal round. It doesn't know if it will play Colombia or Uruguay, but the game will be played Thursday July 4.

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