Brazil celebrates after scare
Sao Paulo - Brazilian fans celebrated with fireworks and breathed a huge collective sigh of relief on Saturday after their team narrowly escaped an embarrassing Soccer World Cup exit.
As it happened: Brazil v Chile
Brazilians watching in their homes,
at bars and on giant public screens exploded with joy after the Selecao
won a heart-stopping penalty shootout against Chile in the tournament's
first knock-out game.
They shouted "Brazil! Brazil!" from their
apartment and car windows, blowing on plastic vuvuzela horns and setting
The country had been staring at a potential repeat
of a national trauma: The 1950 World Cup final defeat against Uruguay
the last time the tournament was played in Brazil.
Some also feared that defeat could have revived an anti-World Cup protest movement that has faded into the background.
Saturday's game in the southeastern city of Belo Horizonte headed
toward the penalty shootout, cities from Brasilia to Sao Paulo and Rio
de Janeiro became eerily quiet.
In Sao Paulo, where 25,000 people
watched at an official "fan fest," Brazilians bedecked in the yellow
team jersey held hands or looked away in agony for each penalty shot.
The few Chileans also held each other.
Screams erupted after every penalty Brazil scored, groans when they missed.
In the end, the throngs of Brazilians danced and sang.
many were worried about the team's performance in a game that ended in a
1-1 tie and was only won thanks to the heroics of goalkeeper Julio
Cesar, who stopped two penalties to send his team through to the
"I don't have much confidence. Brazil need to
improve a lot. Otherwise, they'll destroy our hearts," said Adriano
Sacon, 40, who had made a tower of 23 empty plastic cups, one for each
beer he drank during what he described as "a very tense game."
Dilma Rousseff, who is seeking reelection in October, expressed her joy
on Twitter, writing that the game was won "with guts and the support of
the Brazilian people."
"It was difficult. It was with guts, courage, tears and the defense of Julio Cesar. We won."
is under massive pressure to win the trophy after a troubled run-up to
the World Cup, which was plagued by stadium construction delays and
record $11 billion spending that sparked protests.
fear an early elimination could revive protests that have been small in
recent weeks after drawing as many as one million people last year
demanding better hospitals, education and public transport.
Rio, police used tear gas to disperse hundreds of protestors outside the
Maracana Stadium where Colombia defeated Uruguay 2-0.
Brazil's lackluster performance, some fans were still convinced the
hosts could win a record-extending sixth World Cup on home soil and bury
the ghost of the "Maracanazo," the 1950 loss at the Maracana.
heart stopped in the second half. Now I think Brazil will win," said
Daniele dos Santos, 23, wearing the yellow jersey at a bar in Brasilia
packed with 200 fans.
"They had better win; otherwise everybody will remember how expensive the stadiums were and they'll protest again," Santos said.