Brazil 3, Chile 2
BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil -- Tight and tense as it was, it was enough to keep Brazil's national obsession of winning the World Cup on home soil from taking a desperately disappointing turn.
And it wasn't Neymar, the country's poster boy for this year's World Cup, that played the key role this time. It was goalkeeper Julio Cesar, the country's scapegoat from the last World Cup, who made several crucial saves and even got some help from the woodwork in a 3-2 penalty shootout win over Chile.
With the score level at 1-1 on Saturday, Brazil was inches away from an early exit when Chile forward Mauricio Pinilla hit the crossbar in the final moments of extra time.
Then, on the final kick of the match and after a pair of saves from Cesar in the shootout, Gonzalo Jara hit the post.
"I believe the Brazilian people just needed this," said Cesar, who made a mistake four years ago in South Africa that led to a quarterfinal loss. "The players, everybody else, we needed this."
The fans still have to wait to celebrate the title, however. There are three more matches to win before the home team can lay claim to a sixth World Cup title.
"Let's see if we can make fewer mistakes in the next matches," Brazil coach Felipe Scolari said. "Perhaps next time we won't be as lucky."
To be fair, it wasn't just luck that saw Brazil through to the quarterfinals at Mineirao Stadium, which was a sea of Brazilian yellow with islands of Chilean red.
Neymar, David Luiz and Marcelo scored in the shootout, and Cesar saved penalties from Pinilla and Alexis Sanchez before watching Jara's final attempt hit the post.
The game over, some Brazilian players fell to the ground, exhausted and emotionally drained. Willian, who missed a penalty for Brazil, sobbed uncontrollably, as Fred helped him to his feet.
Colombia 2, Uruguay 0
RIO DE JANEIRO -- James Rodriguez scored one of the best goals of the tournament and then added a second to put Colombia into the World Cup quarterfinals for the first time with a 2-0 win over Uruguay on Saturday.
Rodriguez gave his team the lead with a stunning long-range volley on the turn in the 28th minute and netted the second from close range shortly after the break as Colombia dominated a Uruguay side that sorely missed banned striker Luis Suarez.
Rodriguez now has a tournament-leading five goals in Brazil and further enhanced his status as perhaps the tournament's biggest revelation.
Uruguay, meanwhile, struggled badly in attack without Suarez and his replacement Diego Forlan was substituted in the 53rd after a disappointing performance in what was probably his final World Cup appearance.
Colombia will play Brazil in the quarterfinals on July 4 in Fortaleza after the host beat Chile in a penalty shootout earlier Saturday.
Rodriguez showed once again that the Brazilians have every reason to be wary.
The opener was his most spectacular goal yet. He chested the ball down with his back to goal well outside the area and in one fluid motion turned around and fired a left-foot volley that went off the underside of the crossbar and into the net.