The round of 16 at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil was as fun as they come – eight matches, all of which, barring one, went right down to the wire, with all eight of the group winners going through to the quarterfinals. The last 16 might not have had as much of the thrills and spills of the group stages, and that is saying something for the incredible first round rather than anything else, but it certainly lived up to the overwhelming feeling of in this tournament -- there are no easy games, not even close.
Below is a quick look review at all the eight pre-quarterfinal matches, with the final result and goalscorers.
Brazil vs Chile: Any game that Brazil don't win will pull an entire country, and its millions of global fans into depression. So the pressure was enormous on Neymar and co.'s shoulders heading into the last 16 match against fellow South Americans Chile.
They got off to a perfect start with David Luiz, via some help from Chile defender Gonzalo Jara, turning in from close-range to give his side an early 18th minute lead. That goal was more than deserved as Brazil had started much stronger, but Chile showed their fighting capabilities with an answer just past the half hour –Alexis Sanchez showing just why he is rated so high by his country with a wonderful finish.
The second half was tense, and so was extra time, with neither side able to break the deadlock. The inevitable scary, and "boy I hope it goes our way" penalty shootout came to the fore, with Julio Cesar banishing the ghosts of the 2010 World Cup to help his side sneak into the quarterfinals.
Final Result: Brazil (David Luiz 18') 1-1 Chile (Alexis Sanchez 32') at full time (Brazil win 3-2 on penalties).
Colombia vs Uruguay: This match was about two forwards, one who was in the news and spotlight for all the wrong reasons, and the other, who swept away all the bad mojo with a swing of his left boot.
As Uruguay reeled from the Luis Suarez ban, James Rodriguez scored one, if not the best, goals of the tournament, before netting another early in the second half to give Colombia a relatively comfortable 2-0 victory. Uruguay just could not get out of the blocks in the game, and only really made a match of it in the second half, but Colombia had enough wherewithal to hold on and set up another all-South American clash with Brazil.
Final Result: Colombia (James Rodriguez 28', 50') 2-0 Uruguay
Netherlands vs Mexico: This was not exactly a pretty game, but set the standards for what was to follow – a tight encounter for much of the 90 minutes, before exploding into life in the final moments.
Giovani Dos Santos, who should have come into the last 16 match with two goals to his name, finally did get on the scoresheet, striking home a brilliant effort from the edge of the box to give Mexico a shock lead. Holland struggled to break through the seemingly impenetrable Guillermo Ochoa, and with two minutes remaining of the 90, it looked curtains for the 2010 World Cup runners-up only for Wesley Sneijder to strike a perfect shot into the bottom corner.
What followed was typical Arjen Robben-inspired controversy, with the Netherlands forward going down inside the penalty area – easily, definitely, but wrongly or correctly is a debate that will never end -- under the challenge of Rafael Marquez, before Klaas-Jan Huntelaar banged in the ensuing penalty to take his team into the last eight.
Final Result: Netherlands (Wesley Sneijder 88', Klaas-Jan Huntelaar 90'+) 2-1 Mexico (Giovani Dos Santos 48').
Costa Rica vs Greece: This game was never going to be one for the ages, and it wasn't with Costa Rica seeing an early second half Bryan Ruiz strike cancelled out by a late, late Sokratis Papastathopoulos goal, with the game coming alive in the final moments. Costa Rica goalkeeper Keylor Navas kept 10-man Costa Rica, who had Oscar Duarte sent off earlier, in the game in extra time, before the Central Americans prevailed in a penalty shootout, which only saw one miss.
Final Result: Costa Rica (Bryan Ruiz 52') 1-1 Greece (Sokratis Papastathopoulos 90'+) (Costa Rica win 5-3 on penalties).
France vs Nigeria: Another last 16 match which went right down to the wire, before the favourites broke through with a couple of late goals. This game, like a couple of others before, looked destined for extra time, before a mistake from Vincent Enyeama, man of the match until then, allowed Paul Pogba to head home in the 79th minute, with France adding another goal right at the death.
Final Result: France (Paul Pogba 79', Joseph Yobo 90'+ OG) 2-0 Nigeria.
Germany vs Algeria: The Germans were expected to strut their stuff and waltz past Algeria, who showed their attacking nous on the counter-attack quite well. On another day, Algeria might have gone into halftime with a lead, but instead, the match continued to be goalless with Germany, and their machine-built bodies, getting stronger and stronger as time wore on.
The back of Algeria looked to have been broken by an early goal from Andre Schurrle in extra time, but Germany needed a Mesut Ozil strike in injury time of extra time to win the game with Algeria grabbing the latest of consolations.
Final Result: Germany (Andre Schurrle 92', 120'+) 2-1 Algeria (Abdelmoumene Djabou 120'+)
Argentina vs Switzerland: This was yet another "cannot penetrate through and find that goal" encounter, with Switzerland giving as much as they got against Argentina. The South Americans are one of the heavy favourites to lift the title, but yet again their much-vaunted attacking lineup failed to sparkle.
Switzerland could have easily won the game in normal time had they been a little better in front of goal, with Admir Mehmedi unable to find a way past Sergio Romero, while Josip Drmic missed a wonderful chance when one-on-one with the goalkeeper.
The longer the game went on, the better Argentina's chances you felt -- as long as the match did not go into the penalty shootout. With Switzerland hoping to take the match into the shootout, a dazzling Lionel Messi run and a pinpoint Angel Di Maria finish broke their resistance.
Final Result: Argentina (Angel Di Maria 118') 1-0 Switzerland.
Belgium vs USA: Tim Howard was the superhero in this game for the Americans, making an incredible 15 saves – a World Cup record – as Belgium kept seeing the ball bounce back and refuse to go past the goalline. Marc Wilmots, though, has had a little bit of magic up his sleeve when it has come to substitutions in this game, and Romelu Lukaku turned the game on its head, with an assist for Kevin De Bruyne to open the scoring in extra time, and a goal, right on the stroke of the first period of the extra 30.
Julian Green made a name for himself by becoming the youngest goalscorer for USA in the World Cup as the second 15 of extra time swing one way and then the other with the United States throwing the kitchen sink, and then some, at the Belgians, who just, only just, clung on.
Final Result: Belgium (Kevin De Bruyne 93', Romelu Lukaku 105') 2-1 USA (Julian Green 107').
Plenty more excitement in store, as all the big boys now move into the quarterfinals – with no easy games in this World Cup adage only set to step up a few levels.