With the group stages finished at another World Cup, the sixteen teams who progressed from the groups play in a knockout format with four matches standing between the nations and the World Cup trophy. The first day of last 16 matches featured solely South American nations with the hosts Brazil in action against Chile whilst Colombia would play Uruguay on a day that many expected would highlight the strength of South American football.
Brazil 1-1 Chile (Brazil won 3-2 on penalties)
Brazilian goalkeeper Julio Cesar saved two crucial spot-kicks to give the hosts victory in a tense penalty shootout after nearly making a shock exit from the tournament at the hands of Chile. After both teams had shouts for a penalty, Brazil took the lead from a Neymar corner, which was flicked on across goal by Thiago Silva and put into the back of the net, though it was unclear whether the final touch came off David Luiz, who was credited with the goal officially, or Chilean defender Gonzalo Jara. But Chile did not seem to be intimidated by the vast home support inside the stadium and duly equalised when Brazil switched off from their own throw-in, allowing Eduardo Vargas to find Alexis Sanchez inside the penalty area, and his slightly tame but accurate shot went under Cesar.
The first real incident of note in the second half was a highly controversial one, as Hulk was adjudged by the referee Howard Webb to have controlled the ball with his arm before putting the ball in the back of the net, resulting in the goal being disallowed, a hugely unpopular decision with the partisan crowd but replays showed that the referee got the decision spot on. Chile nearly capitalised on this by almost taking the lead, but Cesar made a brilliant save at his near post to deny Charles Aranguiz. Hulk then skipped into the penalty area and ran past several Chile defenders before forcing a good save from Claudio Bravo as the match went into extra time. Hulk had another half chance that was pushed away by Bravo before Chile came a couple of inches away from knocking the hosts out of the tournament in the last minute of extra time, but Mauricio Pinilla’s powerful shot crashed off the post with the whole of Brazil holding their breath. The match then went to a penalty shootout, and once again Julio Cesar was the hero for Brazil and, after he made saves from Pinilla and Sanchez , Jara hit his crucial penalty against the post to give the hosts the win in a tense penalty shootout. Brazil progressed to the quarter finals then, in doing so keeping alive their hopes of winning their sixth World Cup.
Colombia 2-0 Uruguay
Colombia striker James Rodriguez scored two goals in a brilliant performance as his nation progressed to the quarter final at the expense of a Uruguay side sorely missing banned striker Luis Suarez. His first goal came just before the half hour mark, and was an absolute beauty, with a stunning 25 yard volley going in off the bar that gave the Uruguay keeper Fernando Muslera no chance. Edinson Cavani then had an opportunity to put Uruguay back on level terms, but his free kick from a similar distance just crept over the bar, whilst Alvaro Gonzalez had a shot pushed to safety by David Ospina as Colombia held on to their slim lead at half-time.
But at the start of the second half, Colombia doubled their advantage when a Pablo Armero cross found Juan Cuadrado at the far post, and his header put the ball at the feet of Rodriguez who made no mistake from eight yards out. Cristian Rodriguez nearly got Uruguay back in the game with a brilliant solo run, but his shot from outside the box was tipped away by Ospina, before Ospina was again on hand to tip a deceptive cross/shot from Christian Stuani over the bar. It seemed that Ospina was keeping Colombia in the lead, as a ball over the defence found Maximiliano Pereira but his shot was kept out by the legs of the keeper. Uruguay had one final chance to reduce the arrears but another fine diving save from Ospina kept out Cavani’s low shot as Colombia progressed to the quarter finals, where they will play host nation Brazil.
Take Aim: James Rodriguez struck a wonder goal for Colombia in their win against Uruguay.