Brazil edge Chile, Rodriguez rocket launches Colombia

2014-06-29 08:52

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Brazilians rejoiced as their nervy team edged past Chile to book a place in the World Cup quarterfinals in a nail-biting penalty shootout, while in the other last 16 game, James Rodriguez scored a stunning volley as Colombia downed Uruguay.

It will be Colombia's first appearance in the last eight, and two goals from Rodriguez, including a spectacular left foot strike from 20 metres, put him ahead of Lionel Messi, Thomas Mueller and Neymar as the tournament's top scorer with five.

Uruguay's exit yesterday ended a sorry week for the South Americans, who badly missed their prolific forward Luis Suarez after he was kicked out of the World Cup for biting and banned from any football activity for four months.

Fifa's decision to ban him has overshadowed the World Cup in recent days, and was considered by many people to be excessive.

Before the Colombia game, Suarez posted a message on social media in his first comments since the ban was announced.

"I'm writing to say thanks for all the expressions of support and affection that I'm receiving," he said. "Both I and my family are very grateful. Thanks for being on my side."

An internal Fifa document seen by Reuters yesterday said that soccer's world governing body handed out the heavy punishment because Suarez showed no remorse for the incident and previous bans had not changed his behaviour.

He had twice been banned for biting before.

The Fifa document included excerpts of Suarez's explanation of the event, in which he said his initial contact with Giorgio Chiellini caused him to lose balance and fall on the Italian.

"Then, my face hit the player, leaving me with a bruise and a lot of pain in my teeth ... That is what happened and at no point did anything happen that can be described as 'biting' or trying to bite," Suarez was quoted as saying.

Meanwhile, for Brazil it was an afternoon of excruciating tension in Belo Horizonte, where the teams drew 1-1 after extra time before Brazil won the penalty shootout 3-2.

The win leaves 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," said coach Luiz Felipe Scolari. "There are three more (games) to see if we can reach heaven."

The celebrations on the pitch and across the country were more in relief than jubilation, after a pulsating match in which both sides attacked at pace but failed to convert their chances once Chile striker Alexis Sanchez had cancelled out David Luiz's opener in the 32nd minute.

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