Belo Horizonte: The nation of Brazil collectively held its breath as Gonzalo Jara strode forward to take the last spot kick in the shootout of this extraordinary match. Seconds later it let out a convulsive roar of joy and relief as the Chilean defender's shot cannoned off the post and out to safety, ensuring hosts Brazil had scraped its way into the World Cup quarter-finals by the narrowest of possible margins.
Both teams failed to convert two of their first four penalties in this tense shootout that followed an absorbing, high tempo and thrilling encounter.
Brazilian superstar Neymar stepped up to take the fifth penalty, knowing that a miss would put Chile in the driving seat to eliminate the favourites. His stuttering run belied his confidence and his shot beat Claudio Bravo to put the Brazilians back in the ascendency. When Jara failed to convert a nation could rejoice.
But on the evidence of this display, which ended 1-1 after extra time, this Brazilian side will have to improve if it is to take the World Cup on its own territory and spare its supporters such heartache. Chile gave it a marvellous game and produced a high-octane encounter that will live long in the memory for its drama and emotion.
This was a battle in which both teams wanted to put their opponents away in double quick time, so fast, furious and frenetic was the pace at which they begun.
Brazil were like the swaggering, flashy champions, all exaggerated movement and showmanship, while Chile was tight, ordered, structured, seeking to avoid punishment, absorb the danger and then sting on the counter.
Brazil, backed by a loud and passionate crowd, looked to establish their domination early against a Chile side that looked as though it had no fear of them, or the occasion.
It worked well for Jorge Sampaoli's outsiders as Brazil all too often were reduced to lumping long balls forward in search of an opening rather than playing incisive football to open their opponents up.
The ground was a sea of yellow shirts - Wordsworth, in all his wildest dreams, could not have imagined such a spray in his host of golden daffodils - with pockets of red behind the goal Chile attacked in the first half.
Chile were organised and disciplined and maintained the ball well, while Brazil, while often ramshackle at the back, were thrilling going forward in a frantic first 45 minutes.
Neymar, who had embraced his Barcelona team-mate Alexis Sanchez, Chile's highly-rated playmaker, in the tunnel before kick off quickly showed that friendship could take a back seat for the next 90 minutes as he looked to run at Chile's defenders whenever he got the chance.
Emotions ran high even before the game started, as Brazil's fans and players alike carried on singing the anthem long after the taped music had stopped, ratcheting up the atmosphere and tension even more.
The physical nature of this contest was set in the first minute when Manchester City's Fernandinho showed little compunction about clattering into Charles Aranguiz, receiving a talking to from English referee Howard Webb, although Chile's Arturo Vidal was in belligerent mood from the outset too.
A Dani Alves driving run saw the Brazilian full-back upended under a challenge from Mauricio Isla, but Webb kept his whistle in his mouth and ignored penalty appeals.
Just moments earlier Chile’s Eduardo Vargas had gone down under a David Luiz challenge, and Webb had been unmoved then too.
Webb was, however, happy to award a free-kick when Luiz Gustavo was tripped on the edge of the penalty area by Francisco Silva, and from the cross the ball fell to Marcelo, who made space nicely only for his shot to whistle past Claudio Brava's post.
Neymar had a good opportunity when Chile's defenders misjudged a long clearance but he took too long to get his shot away.
Bravo was by far the busier keeper, shortly afterwards having to punch away a free-kick from Hulk. But he was beaten in the 18th minute when Chile failed to deal with a Neymar corner, the lack of height in their defence always leaving them vulnerable at set pieces.
The ball fell to Luiz who poked home from close range at the far post, although it did look suspiciously like it might have taken a touch off Chile defender Silva.
The much-maligned Fred chested down to give Neymar another opportunity, but the forward shot wide, and then he went to ground after an altercation with the tattooed and mohawked Vidal, both the playmaker and the enforcer for this Chilean team.
The visitors had yet to get their combination passing game going in the forward third, but in the end they didn't have to to get back on terms.
Brazil messed up a regulation throw in near their corner flag and Eduardo Vargas nipped in to rob the ball and square it to Sanchez who kept his cool in the Brazilian area before firing past Cesar.
Brazil almost got themselves back in front when Neymar's header from a terrific Oscar cross bounced off Silva and just wide of post, presaging a frenetic attack when the ball zipped about the Chilean penalty area like a pinball in a particularly hyped up machine.
After another Neymar dribble forced a defensive blunder from Chile, Fred shot over, then Alves tested Bravo with a tremendous long-range drive which the goalkeeper tipped to safety.
The game opened up more in the second period as both teams continued the frantic pace in search of a decisive second goal.
Fernandinho fired wide shortly after the restart and then the stadium erupted when Hulk appeared to have given Brazil the lead with a shot from inside the area. However the referee had spotted a high arm as he controlled the ball and Webb disallowed the effort.
There was little love lost out on the pitch as tackles continued to fly in but Chile were coming more into the contest, their tactics and pressure frustrating the Brazilians at every turn.
A fluent Chilean attacking move involving a neat one two with Vidal gave Aranguiz the chance to shoot, and he drew a fine save from Cesar.
The struggling Fred had been replaced by Jo, who plays his club football at this stadium for Atletico Mineiro, moments earlier but the Chilean press and tactical organisation was giving Brazil few clear cut opportunities.
Tension was mounting on the faces of Brazil as their nerves frayed at the possibility of such an early exit. Chile began to look ever more dangerous going forward as they seemed to gain further belief in their ability to pull off an upset.
Jo missed an excellent chance as he tried to connect with a cross from the left and Brazil could only hold its breath as extra time loomed.
Neymar got on the end of an Alves cross, but his header was saved by Bravo at the second attempt as the Chileans remained calm while Brazil tried to win the game in 90 minutes.
Hulk twisted and turned to get a fierce shot on target in the dying minutes but Bravo was equal to the challenge, palming away and then diving low to gather in the cross from the rebound.
Chile finished the stronger, Sanchez dancing round defenders in the Brazilian penalty area as he looked to find space for a shot as the hosts lived on their nerves, fearful of conceding a late winner. Neither side did so an extra half hour was signalled with this tie finely balanced and the entire Brazilian nation on the edge of a nervous breakdown.
Hulk's driving run produced a free kick in the first minute of extra time and as he rose he exhorted the already frenetic crowd to even greater levels of noise and support. Neymar's free kick was headed clear.
The excellent Bravo momentarily hesitated as he came for a long ball and paid the price when Jo's outstretched boot clattered into his chest, the forward receiving a yellow card for his effort. The big striker was then denied by a last gasp challenge as he stretched to make contact with a through ball, but in truth neither side had created much in the opening ten minutes of extra time.
Hulk then set up a chance for Oscar with a neat stepover and cross but the Chelsea midfielder's header was straight at Bravo. Moments later the goalkeeper denied the Brazilian forward again, this time with a firmly hit shot from distance.
Scoalri made his last roll of the dice by introducing Chelsea winger Willian for his clubmate Oscar while Sampaoli swapped Jose Rohas for the excellent Gary Medel when the latter was carried off on a stretcher.
As the second period of extra time ticked down the tension became palpable. Neither side wanted penalties, but neither wanted to lose either.
As the Brazilian fans put up a chant of '' Eu Acredito'' - I believe - the Selecao, who for much of this match had looked quite un-Brazilian in the way they hoisted the ball forward, roused themselves for a final effort as Chile dug in and sat deep to preserve the status quo and steal a winner on the break.
It almost came when Sanchez played in substitute Mauricio Pinella in the dying seconds, but the striker's shot came crashing back off the bar with Cesar well beaten, ensuring the drama of the shoot out would come into play. Twice then, the woodwork was to deny the Chileans in the most cruel of circumstances.