By Michael Place
BELO HORIZONTE, June 27 (Xinhua) -- Neymar fell to his knees and prayed. David Luiz raced towards coach Luiz Felipe Scolari on the touchline. Julio Cesar wept.
The aftermath of Brazil's dramatic 3-2 penalty shootout victory over Chile on Saturday drew an avalanche of contrasting emotions from the Selecao's players. But none were more tangibly heartfelt than that of Cesar.
Four years ago, the goalkeeper drew the wrath of a nation. His failed clearance in the World Cup quarterfinals against the Netherlands led to a Felipe Melo own goal and Brazil's elimination from the tournament.
One of the enduring memories of the 2010 tournament in South Africa is of Cesar weeping uncontrollably as his teammates sought to console him.
At the Mineiro Stadium on Saturday, there were again tears from the former Inter Milan stopper. But this time they were of joy and relief.
"Only God knows what my family and I went through then and what I continue to go through now," an elated Cesar said after the match.
Cesar saved two penalties and watched Gonzalo Jara's final shot rebound off the post.
Brazil captain Thiago Silva revealed the 34-year-old had inspired his teammates with a pep-talk before the shootout.
"Julio said, 'shoot with confidence because I'm going to save three'," Silva said. "Unbelievable. It's like this was already written."
Having lost his national team spot after the 2010 World Cup, Cesar was given another chance under Scolari early last year.
But new doubts emerged in January when he joined Toronto FC on loan after falling out of favor at Queens Park Rangers.
Cesar himself admitted that Scolari had taken a risk by keeping him as Brazil's first choice in goal.
Now he has every intention of repaying the coach's faith.
"My story with the national team hasn't finished," Cesar said. "There are three [World Cup] matches left. I hope I can then have another interview - a happy one - with all of Brazil celebrating."