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3 steps from heaven: Scolari

Belo Horizonte: Brazil boss Luiz Felipe Scolari said his team were “three steps from heaven” after beating Chile on penalties to reach the World Cup quarter-finals on Saturday.

The hosts’ excruciatingly tense 3-2 penalty win, after the game in Belo Horizonte ended 1-1 following extra-time, left them three games away from lifting the World Cup for a sixth time and exorcising the ghosts of defeat in the 1950 final on home soil. “We took upon ourselves this mission that we must be champions. If you make a promise, you must deliver. This is what the players are doing,” Scolari told reporters. “There are three more steps (games) to see if we can reach heaven,” he added.

Scolari praised Chile, who nearly won with a last-minute shot that cannoned off the crossbar, and said Brazil must improve if they were to keep progressing. “In every match, the difficulties are escalating,” the coach said. Brazil face Colombia in the quarters. The World Cup has shown that the teams are very balanced. If you cannot exploit one or two or three chances, as we didn’t today, then you might pay the price for that and go out.”

Asked about tension between the Brazil and Chile benches during the game, Scolari warned he might abandon a new-found patience and revert to a more explosive style.

At times, the fourth official had to restrain Chile’s bench, with assistants to their coach Jorge Sampaoli straying beyond their area and gesticulating aggressively. “We are being very cordial, very nice and polite to the foreign teams. But perhaps it’s time for us to change,” he said, alleging someone threw stones at Brazil’s dugout.

“They were almost encroaching into our area. It was almost like war, they were waging a battle. I can’t hold it in, I can’t be polite any more.”

Sampaoli, meanwhile, said Chile should take heart from the marvellous performance against the hosts. “Well that near goal right at the end has been really hard for us. We so nearly won, it was harsh,” he said. (Reuters)