BELO HORIZONTE (BRAZIL), June 29 (IANS) Julio Cesar was the unlikely hero as hosts Brazil sneaked into the quarterfinals after a 3-2 penalty shootout win over Chile in the first FIFA World Cup knockout match at the Estadio Mineirao here Saturday.
The two teams were tied 1-1 after regular time and failed to find the breakthrough even after extra time.
Brazil, who have not lost a home game since 1975, twice gave away the advantage after Chile had missed their spotkicks but Neymar converted the hosts final penalty to put all the onus on Chile's Gonzalo Jara.
Jara walked up and his spotkick beat Cesar but hit the right post.
In a thrilling first knockout match, Brazil were the better team holding more possession as well as creating more chances.
Chile were dangerous in stages and mostly played on the counter. It was a solid defensive performance and the match went into penalty shootouts after a 1-1 scoreline at the end of extra time.
Former Chelsea centre-back David Luiz opened the scoring in the 18th minute but Barcelona front man Alexis Sanchez equalised in the 32nd minute against the run of play.
Brazil made one change to their side bringing in Manchester City midfielder Fernandinho for Paulinho while Chile started with the same side that beat Spain 2-0.
The hosts quickly settled into the game holding onto the ball well.
Brazil slowly started venturing into the Chilean half and star man Neymar, who is the joint top scorer with four goals, in particular put the opposition defence under tremendous pressure.
Neymar constantly got behind the Chile defence and could have easily scored a couple but for poor shooting from his weaker left foot.
Brazil were clearly the better side and the pressure finally told on Chile as David Luiz got at the end of Thiago Silva head on from a Neymar corner.
Brazil continued to attack and created a few more chances but Chilean goalkeeper Claudio Bravo was upto the task.
Barcelona forward silenced the boisterous home crowd with a fortunate equaliser much against the run of play.
The Brazilian defence, which had looked the sturdiest it has in the entire tournament, leaked another cheap goal.
Marcelo's throw in was met by Hulk but his pass back was too short and was taken away by a Chilean player who passed the ball to Sanchez and Barcelona forward did well to beat Julio Cesar from a difficult angle.
The biggest disappointment for the Brazilian fans in that half was Oscar's disappearing act.
The Chelsea midfielder, operating on the right wing, rarely saw the ball and played little part in attack.
Striker Fred once again was anonymous and had an extremely poor half.
The second half was a much tighter affair with most of the key battles taking place in the midfield.
Chile had a better a much better half and looked dangerous whenever they attacked with Sanchez again being the key instigator.
Brazil, though, could have so easily taken the lead for the second time and forward Hulk did put the ball in the back of the net but referee controversially deemed that the Zenit St. Petersburg had controlled the ball with his hand.
Both teams went on the attack in the final ten minutes of regular time.
Hulk again was in the middle of things as his brilliant trickery around the box helped him open up enough space to get a ferocious shot off but Bravo was at hand once more.
Neymar couldn't repeat his first half performance but his place was taken by Hulk, who looked most menacing of the Brazilian attackers.
Substitute Jo could have so easily settled things but missed a complete sitter in front of goal.
Chile threatened to steal the game in death but the Brazilian defence held on after a nervy finish to the 90 minutes.
Brazil took the initiative in the first half of extra time and looked the team more likely to score.
Chile sat back and invited trouble and could have paid for it but for poor finishing from the Brazilians.
It was the same story in the second half of extra time as only Brazil came out to win the match.
Chile look settled for a penalty shootout and packed up the defence.
Chile showed some last minute endeavour and substitute Mauricio Pinilla almost ended the Brazilian dreams when his shot struck the crossbar.