Chile’s jinx against Brazil remains in place
BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil (AP) — Chile came oh so close to pulling off a “Mineirazo.”
With Chile and Brazil even at 1-1 late in extra time at the World Cup on Saturday, the Chileans jumped up from the dugout at Mineirao Stadium in the final moments only to watch forward Mauricio Pinilla’s shot slam off the crossbar.
Brazil ended up winning 3-2 in a penalty shootout and advanced to the quarterfinals.
“The near goal has been very hard for us to take,” Chile coach Jorge Sampaoli said. “If it had gone in, it would have been a historic moment for Chile. It would have been a ‘Mineirazo.’”
The last time the World Cup was in Brazil in 1950, Uruguay beat Brazil in the final match of the tournament, a result known as the “Maracanazo.”
Instead of a “Mineirazo,” however, Chile’s 14-year jinx against Brazil remains.
Chile hasn’t beaten the host nation since a World Cup qualifier in 2000, and had lost 10 of the last 12 heading into Saturday’s match.
The two teams had met three times in previous World Cups, with Brazil winning 4-2 in the semifinals of the 1962 tournament in Chile, then 4-1 in the second round in 1998 and 3-0 at the same stage in 2010.
“We thought this game would end differently,” Sampaoli said. “We didn’t expect to go to penalties. We thought we would win the game.”
The coach praised his players for fighting hard throughout the match, saying they were able to neutralize Neymar.
“I told them to be brave, to fight and to defy history,” he said. “I think that’s why our matches have been very intense.”
Sampaoli also singled out the spine of Chile’s team, Gary Medel and Arturo Vidal, for playing through pain and injury, saying they “risked their physical well-being” for their country.
Last month, Vidal had right knee surgery, and then the powerful midfielder injured his right Achilles tendon in Brazil. Before the match, the coach had said Vidal wasn’t close to being 100 percent fit.
On Saturday, Sampaoli praised Vidal, who missed the last group match against the Netherlands, for training every day despite his injuries and staying on the field against Brazil for 87 minutes.
It was also doubtful that Medel would start because of a muscular problem. But he played 108 minutes with heavy strapping on both thighs, exemplifying Chile’s fighting spirit.
“I think Chile can be very proud of what this national team has given,” Sampaoli said. “They have defended their national colors with pride and with bravery.”