It didn’t take long. The first elimination game at the World Cup was settled by penalty kicks.
A tense, hotly-contested match in Belo Horizonte between the host nation, Brazil, and its South American rival Chile, headed inexorably toward a 1-1 deadlock after regulation time, and after two 15-minute overtime periods.
It was an entertaining match with both goals scored in the first 32 minutes and plenty of close calls in the next 100.
By the end of overtime, it was clear that both sides were utterly spent. The fans, on the other hand, were desperately hoping for the home team to pull out the win.
The shootout came down to the last penalty kicks with the teams tied, 1-1-1. Brazilian phenom Neymar Jr. stutter-stepped until the Chilean goalie, Claudio Bravo, made a move to his left, and then he drilled the ball into the back of the net.
Chile’s Gonzalo Jara followed with an excellent attempt that hit the post and bounced across the goal, barely missing the post on the other side.
Before the match, a lot of respect was expressed by each side, at least some of which sprung from strong FC Barcelona connections.
Neymar and Dani Alves of Brazil, as well as Chile’s Alexis Sánchez, all play for the Spanish club.
“Alexis is a star,” Neymar said of the Chilean forward. “I admire him a lot. He is a great player and we will need to be careful with him. We can't leave him any space."
But when the game started, the gloves came off. It was an entertaining first half with thrilling runs—a few more by Brazil than by Chile, but not by much—but in the end, the mistakes were what counted more.
Brazil earned a corner kick in the 18th minute that Neymar took. The ball glanced off Thiago Silva’s head and then into the tandem of Jara and Brazil’s David Luiz. One or the other or both then deflected the ball into the goal. (Luiz was given credit for the goal.)
In the 32nd minute, Alexis Sánchez showed why Neymar said what he did about him. Eduardo Vargas intercepted a poor pass from Hulk and found Sánchez unmarked. The Barcelona striker scored from the right side of the penalty area with a shot toward the far post to tie the game.
In the 55th minute, Hulk had a seeing-eye goal called back by the English ref, Howard Webb, who ruled the Brazilian midfielder had brought the ball down using his upper arm.
During the second half, Chile controlled the ball more, but the number of dangerous attacks each side mounted dropped off.
In the 81st minute, Dani Alves found Neymar in the penalty area, but his header was right at Chilean goalie, Claudio Bravo.
That sequence began a stretch of around four or five minutes in which the Brazilians peppered the Chilean goal with shots, all of which Bravo stopped.
A dangerous play in the opening minutes of the overtime saw Jo going after a long pass and inadvertently kick the Chilean goalie, Bravo, in the arm.
The Brazilians pressed more in the extra time, creating good chances time and again. The Chileans played almost the entire last 15 minutes of overtime on their heels, in their own half of the field.
Still, their defense and Bravo held off the five-time champions, and in the 120th minute, they created a great opportunity, with Mauricio Pinilla rifling a shot that caromed hard off the crossbar.
Brazil has now reached the quarterfinals of the last six World Cups. Chile has not advanced to the quarterfinals since it hosted the 1962 tournament.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.