Brazil’s nail-biting victory on penalties over Chile in the World Cup’s first knockout match brought thousands out to share the experience in public.
Sao Paulo was where the tournament kicked off. It was also in the vanguard of social protests.
All that was forgotten as a large crowd decked out in green and yellow watched the match from Belo Horizonte unfold on a big screen in the city centre.
There were roars of joy as Brazilian defender David Luiz scored. But the joy was short-lived, and Chile’s equaliser from Alexis Sanchez heralded a period of unbearable tension that was to last for the rest of the match.
“I’m so nervous, I don’t want to look,” said Teresa Silva. “It should be 3-1, Neymar almost scored twice.”
“Now I think the game is more calm, because it’s 1-1,” said Daniela Cunha during the second half. “I hope Brazil don’t let Chile win… they’re a difficult team, their goalkeeper is very good.”
Brazil could easily have lost: Pinilla’s shot hit the bar in the last minute of extra time.
The Chilean striker and others missed their subsequent penalties. Suddenly it was all over, and the Sao Paulo square exploded in joy and relief.
“Oh God, that was hard,” said fan Marcos Vinicius. “It could have been better if Hulk had helped out… Chile were a surprise, they played well.”
“This victory was very important for us. We’re playing at home, we have all the support with us. The fans are helping too. We saw big teams like Italy and England go back home. But Brazil is Brazil and we’re playing at home, so I think we have everything to be the best,” said Fernando Mendonca.
Euronews correspondent Rita Ferreira reported from the scene:
“In an hard game, which went to extra time and penalties, goalkeeper Julio Cesar secured the Brazilian team’s qualification for the quarterfinals. The party now is green and yellow.”