Brazil, the team which manages to thrill and frustrate almost simultaneously, clinched its place in the quarterfinal of the World Cup following a tension-fueled encounter with Chile.
A 3-2 victory on penalties following a 1-1 draw in Belo Horizonte means Luiz Felipe Scolari’s side’s quest to win the World Cup on home soil remains alive.
It will now turn its attention to a last eight contest with Colombia — a team which has thrilled so far in this tournament.
While Brazil will take the plaudits, Chile should be commended for a performance which at times defied the ability of the human body to run and hustle as its players did.
Having already scored an own-goal to gift Brazil a 19th minute lead, Gonzalo Jara was to be the fall guy at the death.
With Brazil leading the shootout 3-2, Jara needed to score to keep his country in the tournament.
As he stood, eyes firmly on the goal, two nations held their breath — but only one broke out into ecstasy as the ball smashed against the post and rolled away to safety.
As those in red flopped to the ground, their bodies bruised and beaten, tears running down their faces, their opponents danced their way around the field, perhaps more out of relief than happiness.
Brazil, still haunted by its failure 64 years ago when it was beaten by Uruguay in the 1950 final, cannot afford anything but triumph.
It will now move on to face Colombia in Fortaleza on Friday — but there will still be some concerns over Brazil’s performance.
This was not the showing of a side which appeared ready to become World champion.
Poor in possession, unnerving in defense, most of those at the Estadio Mineirao were put through a painstaking afternoon as its side seldom showed what has become expected of a Brazilian side.
And yet, before kickoff, every single historic fact pointed towards a Brazil victory.
Brazil, which had not lost a competitive home game since 1975, has dominated encounters between the two sides in recent years.
On the 26 occasions Chile had ventured onto Brazilian turf to face the host nation, it had lost 20 and drawn six — not a record to inspire confidence ahead of a last-16 clash.
Add to that Brazil’s victory over Chile in South Africa four years ago and it’s easy to understand why Scolari’s men headed into the contest as the favorite.
But this Chile side, coached by the irrepressible Jorge Sampaoli, appears to have little interest in history.
Its victory over world champion Spain during the group stage gave a glimpse of the talent within the squad and led by the prolific Alexis Sanchez, it soon gave notice that it was not about to allow Brazil to simply swat it aside.
Even when it fell behind, Jara, inadvertently directing Thiago Silva’s header into his own net under pressure from David Luiz, Chile refused to buckle.
Playing with an energy and intensity which belied the energy sapping conditions, the visiting side soon crafted an equalizer, which perhaps owed more to Brazil’s poor defending than any Chilean magic.
A careless pass allowed Chile to pick up possession and Sanchez weaved his way into the penalty area before carefully placing the ball beyond the outstretched arm of Julio Cesar.
The Barcelona forward, who has scored 10 goals in his past 14 international games, has been his side’s talisman throughout the tournament — and his pace, power and trickery continued to cause Brazil problems.
But where Sanchez managed to shine, Neymar, the man who had lit up this World Cup, failed to find his way into the contest.
The 22-year-old, who had scored four goals in his opening three games, received a kick in the first half which appeared to leave him struggling.