In an infinite number of parallel dimensions, Chile are through today and Brazil are out disappointingly-early in their home World Cup, but we live in one of the other set of infinite universes where the slightest breeze or most minor of delayed nerve impulses kept Brazil alive, despite being second-best for a lot of the match. In the second half of normal time, particularly at the end, Chile were looking like the irresistible force ready to spoil the party of a quickly-fading Brazil. Unfortunately for the Chileans, fate took a hand and tipped the balance towards the hosts.
Early on, you'd never have guessed this was coming. Brazil were the dominant side, with Neymar the singular force in the match. From that early pressure, the Seleção found the early opener, possibly through David Luiz, possibly through a Gonzalo Jara own goal. It should have been a building point and game over for a rampant host, but it wasn't. Hulk's horrible error fifteen minutes later let Alexis Sanchez pop up in the box for the equaliser.
After the goal, the momentum began to swing towards Chile, though both sides had ample chances. Just after the re-start, Hulk had a scruffy goal correctly ruled-out for a handball. From there, Brazil rapidly lost influence in the match and Chile grew into it. Though no more goals were scored from then on, both sides had chances. Chile arguably had the better of them, but both keepers were magnificent in stopping them,.
With no winner in normal time, Brazil and Chile toiled through extra time before Mauricio Pinilla pinged one off the bar at the death. If you ever doubt the narrative power of football, remember that the hopes of a nation of 200 million came just a few centimetres from being dashed in the most heartbreaking fashion, but destiny had different plans and we went to a penalty shoot-out.
It wasn't a classic by any means, both sides missing two of their initial four kicks, but Chile appeared down-and-out at 2-0, before coming back to draw level after Willian and Hulk failed to convert. With a stutter-stepping Neymar having put Brazil ahead, up stepped Gonzalo Jara, formerly of West Bromwich Albion and most-recently of Nottingham Forest. With a Julio Cesar beaten, all that was needed was to find the far corner or even a little bit of the post before bouncing in to send it to sudden death.
Unfortunately, fate decided that his shot should find too much of the post and bounce out. Just like that, Chile were out, and Brazil had avoided the most-massive of shocks in a World Cup full of surprises. A World Cup, by the way, they are absolutely expected to win in their home country. How they'll use this near-disaster remains to be seen. It can be the penultimate step in a path of lame failure leading to defeat next time out, or it can be the wake-up call needed to spur them on to the Final.
As you might expect, given the mixed result for their team, it was a mixed result for Chelsea's Brazilians, with none really showing the impact they've had at club level. Oscar, while still bright at times, wasn't quite as influential as he can be. Despite a few great passes and good work, he was also ignored by team-mates at times, and wasn't the main man he can be.
Willian and Ramires both came on as substitutes, Ramires somewhat-mystifyingly for Fernandinho after half-time, and Willian for Oscar after normal time. While neither had much impact of note, Willian was more influential than Ramires, who was pretty anonymous. Willian, as we know, went on to miss a penalty, though that failure proved to be inconsequential.
The only Chelsea player to offer any tangible impact was David Luiz, who possibly scored the opener for Brazil, which was his first at international level. Yes, technically, he's PSG's David Luiz these days, but, in my mind, he's still a Chelsea player until he plays for the Parisians. Despite the goal, it wasn't all smiles for the Geezer-in-Chief. Brazil's defence was found wanting several times in the match, though rarely because of David Luiz individually.
Ultimately, Brazil, and Chelsea's Brazilian interests, achieved their expected passage to the quarter-final, but through the most-difficult ordeal imaginable. By rights, they probably should have lost, but that wasn't the road destiny laid out for them today. Chelsea's players are still alive in this amazing, baffling, and downright-nuts 2014 World Cup.