RIO DE JANEIRO — The giant escaped alive — just barely.
Brazil beat Chile 3-2 on penalties in its Round of 16 World Cup soccer match Saturday in Belo Horizonte — and the brutally close contest put the nation of 200 million into a state of collective suffering.
In millions of homes across the continent-sized nation, in countless bars and before giant screens set up on beaches at official FIFA Fan Fest watch parties, everybody wearing Brazil’s canary-colored team jerseys felt the pain.
The scrappy, talented Chileans just kept battling the globe’s soccer powerhouse every step of the way — to the consternation of Brazil’s infamously critical fans.
“That was nonsense — they weren’t playing well and it came to this,” said Matheus Machado, a 31-year-old Brazilian lawyer who spent much of the match pressing his forehead against a wooden bar table in the northeastern World Cup city of Recife. “It was so painful I can’t describe it.”
He added: “It was a relief. I know Chile has a good team and all but there’s a lot of tradition here and that means a lot to us.”
In Rio de Janeiro, many fans with tickets to watch Colombia take on Uruguay in Maracana stadium arrived early to watch the Brazil match on the arena’s giant screens.
“I sweated a lot!” said Ana Paulo Romero from inside Maracana.
She didn’t soften her criticism of Brazil’s team for putting fans through the close match.
”It’s not a strong team — they barely created any goal opportunities,” Romero said of Brazil’s squad. “Winning by penalties isn’t what we Brazilians want to see.”