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Job gets harder: Cesar, the hero

Belo Horizonte: Brazil goalkeeper Julio Cesar told teammates he would be the hero in a tense penalty shoot-out that the World Cup hosts won against Chile on Saturday to reach the quarter finals, captain Thiago Silva said.

Julio Cesar saved efforts from Mauricio Pinilla and Alexis Sanchez as Brazil won the shootout 3-2 after the last-16 match had ended 1-1 after extra time.

“Before the penalties Julio said, ‘Hit them with confidence and I’ll stop three’,” Thiago Silva said.

“It was preordained. Chile were a great team but we found strength. The most important thing is that the group is united, independent of any mistakes.”

Cesar, obviously, was a happy man. “It was complicated,” Man of the Match Cesar said.

“The pressure of representing Brazil and playing at home is really great. We played well in the first half but after they found the equaliser, they got into the game.

“My teammates gave me support and strength. The job gets harder now,” added the goalkeeper after helping avoid Brazil’s first home defeat in a competitive game since 1975.

The penalties came after a tense match in which both teams had chances to win. Chile rattled the bar in the final seconds and Brazilian midfielder Luiz Gustavo said that let-off gave his team belief.

“A shot like that, you imagine lots of things, the dream of millions of Brazilians ending like that,” he said. “But we drew strength from it, and now we know it will get harder and harder. We did it and we gave a little bit of joy to Brazilians.”

Thiago Silva said the match, played in front of a passionate crowd at the Mineirao stadium in Belo Horizonte, was a unique moment for Brazil’s inexperienced side.

“We suffered, we know Chile would push us back and they deserve credit,” he said. “We know they are very mobile and that made it hard for me and David (Luiz), especially him with his sore back. He was a warrior today, and that shows the strength and the unity we have.

“It is going to get harder,” he added. “We have three games to realise our dreams and the dreams of Brazilians.” (Reuters)