The first game of the World Cup knockout stage came down to the ultimate ending -- more than enough drama to keep fans of the Chile and Brazil national soccer teams glued to the television at a Fresno restaurant Saturday morning.
Tied 1-1 after 90-plus minutes of regulation and two 15-minute-plus periods of extra time, Brazil and Chile decided the winner on penalty kicks.
"It's all about luck now," said Jay Ghazal, owner of Samba Global Cuisine in Fresno. He and more than a dozen others had their eyes glued to the big screen TV on the restaurant patio.
Ghazal's forecast was accurate -- Gonzalo Jara hit the right post with Chile's last kick, missing a goal by inches and giving Brazil victory, 3-2 on penalty kicks.
Ghazal, who lived in Sao Paulo, Brazil, for three years, was supporting the Seleção (Portuguese for "national team"), wearing a gray and green jersey.
But he happily shared his Fig Garden Village restaurant with Thomas Diaz and wife Andrea, who were decked in red, supporting Diaz's homeland of Chile.
Diaz, 38, was born in Santiago and has many relatives still living there but has lived in Fresno for most of his life.
They watched each team score in the first half, then grind it out.
Sure, there were chances -- none more dramatic than Mauricio Pinilla's shot for Chile in the final moments of extra time that deflected off the cross bar in what could have been the goal to eliminate the tournament's host country.
"This is just unbelievable," Diaz said.
Moments later, Brazilian fans celebrated while Diaz was left heartbroken.
"We were one kick away," he said. "It was a hard-fought game the entire time. I knew it was going to be very difficult to knock out Brazil in its own country and we almost pulled it off. We played better than in years past and I'm proud of the whole team."
Two down, six to go
Brazil and Colombia have punched their tickets to the quarterfinals. Which six teams are going to join them? Remaining games are on ESPN.
Brazil 1, Chile 1 (Brazil 3-2 PKs)
Colombia 2, Uruguay 0
9 a.m.: Netherlands vs. Mexico
1 p.m.: Costa Rica vs. Greece
9 a.m.: France vs. Nigeria
1 p.m.: Germany vs. Algeria
9 a.m.: Argentina vs. Switzerland
1 p.m.: Belgium vs. U.S.
In Monday's Fresno Bee
Pick up a copy for posters of Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez, Tim Howard and Clint Dempsey.
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