CHICAGO --The round of 16, or the knockout stage of the World Cup began on Saturday with the host nation, Brazil, facing Chile.
Before a huge throng of their fans, clad in their traditional yellow and green jerseys, the Brazilians had all the pressure on them. The weather would not be a factor at Estadio Mineirao in Belo Horizonte. Brazilian newspapers were so confident of victory that they printed the flight schedules from Brazil back to Chile.
In the 18th minute, Brazil struck. The great Neymar with the corner kick, headed on by Thiago Silva and on to David Luiz, who popped it home for a 1-0 lead. It's Luiz's first-ever World Cup goal and the mostly-Brazilian throng went nuts. Then, in the 32nd minute, the Brazilian defender known as Hulk, made a mistake near his own goal. His pass was intercepted by Eduardo Vargas, he fed Alexis Sanchez and he drilled it home, game tied 1-1 and that's how the half ended.
In the 53rd minute, Hulk appeared to score when he took a great pass that bounced off his shoulder and upper arm and banged it home. However, a handball was called. The ESPN announcers agreed with the call, even though the replays showed that it was nowhere near his hand. And I do not give a damn how technical the rules state what a handball is. For me, it needs to touch the hand or it's not a hand ball, PERIOD.
After 90-plus minutes, the game was tied, so there was 30 minutes of overtime added. Still no goals. So the first game of the knockout stage goes to a shootout. Neymar gave Brazil a 3-2 lead on the fifth penalty shootout shot. Julio Cesar became the hero as he stopped 3 of 5 shots including the final one when Gonzalo Jara hit the right post. So for the fourth time, Chile has been eliminated from the World Cup by Brazil. Brazil has not lost at home in 39 years of competitive games. What a match. I'm sweating just as much as the competitors from a heart-wrenching, anxiety-ridden 122 minutes of World Cup soccer.
As for the second match of Saturday's knockout stage, Colombia, winners of Group "C" faced Uruguay. The Uruguayans were without their superstar strike Luis "The Cannibal" Suarez. He was suspended for four months by FIFA for biting Italy's Giorgio Chiellini on the shoulder in the group stage. At Maracana Saturday, the Colombians struck first and their bright new star James Rodriguez collected the ball off his chest, and in one motion turned and fired a beauty into the top left corner of the net and in the 28th minute, Colombia delighted it's throng of fans with a 1-0 lead. Then, in the 50th minute, Rodriguez did it again, Colombia goes on to win 2-0 over a Uruguayan team that sure could have used "The Cannibal".
Sunday, Day 17 of the tournament features Group "B" winner Netherlands against the second-place team from group "A," Mexico. I like the Dutch because Robin Van Persie, the Netherlands best player, will be back from a two yellow card suspension for Holland. In the second match on Sunday, Costa Rica takes on Greece and I like Costa Rica to knockout the Greeks. So far, my record for picking these games is 31-19.
World Cup Blog Archive
Since joining ABC7 in 1982, Jim Rose has become a major force in Chicago sports broadcasting. He currently serves as sports anchor/reporter for ABC7 News in Chicago's top-rated 4:00 and 6:00 p.m. newscasts. He is an avid fan of the World Cup! Learn more about Jim