RIO DE JANEIRO - After the goal festival of the group stages, the round of 16 showed the Brazil World Cup has become a more equally-matched affair.
Five of the eight games ran into extra time — two of them requiring a penalty shootout — and only two teams managed victories by a two-goal margin.
There were also few surprises: For the first time since the current format was introduced, in 1986, all of the teams that won their respective groups have made it to the quarter-finals.
Hosts Brazil, for example, suffered more than expected against Chile, owing in part to a below-par performance. They only defeated La Roja 3-2 in a penalty shoot-out after the match in Belo Horizonte had ended in a 1-1 draw.
"When you win like this, you come out stronger," Brazilian coach Luiz Felipe Scolari said of the match.
At the mythical Maracana stadium, meanwhile, Colombia easily rid themselves of Uruguay 2-0, with La Celeste still furious over the Luiz Suarez controversy.
The undisputed hero was James Rodriguez, author of both of Colombia's goals in Rio de Janeiro. His first, in which chested the ball before firing in a spectacular volley, has been rated one of the best of the tournament so far.
The Colombian playmaker has now scored in every game for a tournament-leading tally of five.
"It's great to have a player like James Rodriguez," said Colombian coach Jose Pekerman.
The Netherlands-Mexico match will best be remembered for the controversy surrounding Arjen Robben's admission that he had "fallen too easily" inside the penalty area. The Dutch star was referring to a first-half incident, not the injury-time penalty that allowed Klaas Jan Huntelaar to settle the score at 2-1 for the Dutch, after an 88th-minute equaliser from Wesley Snijder.