Finally, a South American team in yellow playing exciting, passionate football with a killer instinct.
It just wasn’t Brazil.
Colombia sent home the 2014 Pantomime Villains, Uruguay, with a stunning display and yet another contender for goal of the tournament from current top scorer, James Rodriguez, taking a ball on the chest outside the area after a bout of headed ping-pong, controlling it onto his left foot and volleying stunningly off the keeper’s hand and down off the underside of the bar into the net.
Anyone who read yesterday’s blog can’t say they weren’t warned, and since they face a still stuttering Brazil in the quarter finals on Friday, Rodriqguez has every chance of adding to his total of five goals and edging closer to the Golden Ball award.
Earlier in the day, Brazil had somehow squeaked through the tightest of matches, defeating Chile 3-2 on penalties after a 1-1 draw, a penalty shoot out which tied the record for the most penalties missed in a World Cup, and saw the team shooting first advance for the eighth time in a row.
It almost didn’t make it to penalties. A first-half corner was turned in by Brazil defender David Luiz after the Chilean goalie needlessly conceded a corner from a simple free-kick. Brazil returned the favour before half-time, forward Hulk failing to control a simple throw in and allowing Barcelona striker Alexis Sanchez to sneak in and level the scores with an impressive finish.
Hulk then had a second-half goal disallowed for handball by the only Englishman left in the competition, (referee Howard Webb), and having watched it several times on slo-mo replay I still can’t tell if it was the correct decision or not. It was certainly unpopular with the crowd, and almost proved fatal as, in the last minute of extra time, Chilean substitute Mauricio Pinilla hammered a shot which came back off the woodwork.
So, penalties it was, and with the referee apparently deciding that goalkeepers no longer have to stay on their line, and players can pause in their run-up, (a Neymar tactic which I thought wasn’t allowed, but have never been sure about), Brazil snuck through 3-2 when the final Chilean spot-kick hit the post.
Deserved? Possibly. Convincing? Definitely not. And with Colombia to come in the next round, who knows how much further their luck can carry them. But the celebrations are still continuing outside my window, five hours later, and don’t look like stopping anytime soon…
My visitor has decided that seeing some of this gorgeous country may be more important than watching Holland vs Mexico and Costa Rica vs Greece tomorrow, and since I agree with her about at least the second part of that statement, there may be no blog tomorrow as we jump on several buses, taxis and ferries to visit a nearby paradisiacal island called Morro de São Paolo.
Try to keep yourselves entertained, and make sure you have signed up to receive details of my forthcoming book on the World Cup and more: Benfica to Brazil. The details are all here.
PS It’s the story which just keeps on giving: Luís Suarez continues to play the victim in this whole unfortunate ‘being shouldered in the teeth’ saga by claiming today that he ‘lost his balance‘ in the infamous incident. His head lost its balance, into Chiellini’s shoulder. That’s right.
At least he’s facing up to his problems!