Brazil and their hordes of fans would have envisaged a tough encounter against Chile, but with the footballing Gods sticking with them to take them through to the quarterfinals of the FIFA World Cup 2014 – and so it proved to be in a dramatic, "phew the hosts got lucky" last 16 match.
For 120 minutes and the following penalty shootout in Belo Horizonte, Chile clung on, refusing to let Brazil walk away with another round of 16 victory against them. It began with Alexis Sanchez levelling the scores at 1-1 in the first half, a few minutes after David Luiz had given Brazil a dream lead.
Then it continued in the second half, with Chile looking the more likely team to score, before a going-through-the-motions extra time from both sides eventually ended up in that dreaded don't-know-what's-gonna-happen penalty shootout. Brazil, who will need to amp their levels up a few notches if they are to go all the way in this tournament, edged that lottery 3-2 to cue wild celebrations and even greater relief.
It's a sad exit for Chile, who you feel, had they played any other team but the hosts Brazil, would have seen those footballing Gods side with them just that little bit more.
The penalty shootout swung one way and then the other, before Brazil eventually prevailed. David Luiz had scored the opening goal in normal time, and the defender would make it 1-0 in the shootout as well, with a thumping finish. Mauricio Pinilla, who nearly stole it all at the death, sent those Brazilian fans into ecstasy with a strike straight at Cesar and with it giving Brazil the advantage.
Another substitute Willian, though, wilted under the pressure, firing his penalty wide with Bravo well and truly beaten. However, Cesar had that "thou shall not pass" look about him, and a splendid save to deny Sanchez kept it at 1-0, before Marcelo doubled the scoreline.
Chile refused to go away, however, with Charles Aranguiz converting with a thunderous penalty kick, before Bravo quelled Hulk's strike. Marcelo Diaz converted to make it 2-2, setting the stage for Neymar to give Brazil the advantage, which he duly did. Gonzalo Jara had to score to take the shootout to sudden death and keep Chile in the World Cup, but fate had other plans as the ball smashed onto the post to send Brazil through, just.
If Chile were expected to overwhelm the Brazil defence with their lightning quick attacks, it was nowhere near reality as the hosts took the game to their opponents right from the off.
There was no "Ok this team's just shaded it" feeling, as it was all Brazil, who were much more active going forward in the first half and had they put their finishing boots on, the scoreline could have easily bulged quite heavily in their favour.
Neymar was a constant threat, breaking free from Chile's high line on a few occasions, but like the rest of his teammates, the foot just would not make the right connection with the ball to find the back of the net.
Fred was at least not invisible, like he has been so often in this tournament, in this game, but his finishing was worse than that of the goalkeeper playing in the park, someone who has only been picked to play to make up the numbers.
Brazil's dominance, however, deserved a goal, and it came in the 18th minute.
Neymar, who was the victim of a few hefty challenges from Chile, as they looked to unsettle Brazil's golden boy, was, of course, involved, swinging in the corner from the left, which was headed on nicely by Thiago Silva for a combination of Gonzalo Jara and David Luiz to turn in at the far post – the Chile defender definitely got the telling touch, but Luiz will have no hesitation in claiming the goal.
Brazil kept looking threatening going forward, while nullifying Chile's threat, with midfielders and forwards from the home side always pressurising the man on the ball and not allowing the Chile players to settle.
However, this Chile side, as they have shown all tournament, pounce at you like a cat, and before you even realise it you are kicking that ball out of your own goal and preparing to kickoff from the middle of the field.
Brazil only had themselves to blame for conceding the equaliser, though, as they made a hash of a simple throw-in, with Hulk undercooking his return pass to Marcelo, and in the blink of an eye, Eduardo Vargas had passed to Sanchez, who made no mistake in slotting the ball across Julio Cesar to level the match on 32 minutes.
The majority of the capacity crowd, having the time of their lives after seeing their side take the lead, were a little shell-shocked by that equaliser, but Brazil refused to be rattled and kept playing their game, with Marcelo forcing a nice save from Claudio Bravo. A couple of half-chances went begging for both sides, but 1-1 it remained at halftime.
Chile started the second 45 much better, but it was Brazil who put the ball in the net with Hulk squeezing the ball into the bottom corner after taking down a long ball – the celebrations were in full swing on the pitch, on the sidelines and in the crowd, but it was cut short quickly with Howard Webb disallowing the goal as Hulk was deemed to have handled the ball in bringing it down. Replays showed the ball did hit Hulk's right shoulder, but it could have easily gone Brazil's way – maybe Sanchez's pre-match barb at the referee did work after all.
If Brazil were the better side in the first half, it was all Chile in the first 25 minutes of the second half, with Jorge Sampaoli's men not allowing Brazil to get out of their own box with their relentless pressing. All of the pressure nearly paid off just past the hour when some delightful football from Arturo Vidal and Mauricio Isla set up Charles Aranguiz for a shot from 13 yards, which was kept out by Cesar in smashing style.
Brazil, who kept looking forward with aimless long balls, were under the pump and needed something to change, with Luiz Felipe Scolari making the expected substitution of bringing on Jo for Fred; but as long as Neymar stayed in the periphery, they were never going to trouble the Chile defence too much. And Neymar, so involved in the first 45, hardly saw the ball in the second half.
However, all it takes is one magical moment and Hulk provided that with a dazzling run and cross which Jo, brought on to improve the finishing, failed to make any sort of proper contact with, when a goal looked nailed-on. With Neymar failing to get into the game, Hulk looked to take the contest by the scruff of the neck, firing a shot wide, before their talisman finally got a telling touch, in the 35th minute of the second half, with his header forcing a smart save from Bravo.
Hulk was still in the mood, with another brilliant run and shot needing Bravo to spring to his right to make a fantastic save as Brazil looked to steal it in the final moments. With the inevitability of extra time looming large, it was Chile who finished stronger, but that winning goal never really looked like coming.
Brazil were the only side who were bothered to score the winner in extra time, with Chile clearly content with the lottery of the penalty shootout. But chances were few and far between, with Jo presented with the best opportunity in the second period of extra time, heading high from seven yards.
The crowd kept roaring their side on, but creativity and the key required to unlock the Chile defence remained hidden in a deep dark unreachable cave, with Mauricio Pinilla, after a nice one-two with Sanchez, nearly sending the host country into collective depression by striking the crossbar with a thunderbolt from 18 yards.
However, it was to be that dramatic shootout and Brazil sneaked through, with tears from both sides, of contrasting emotions, drenching the turf at the Estadio Mineirao.