Croatians beat Brazil on Penalties to Advance to the World Cup semifinals
Brazil was eliminated from the World Cup after a painful penalty shootout loss to Croatia on Friday.
Neymar scored his 77th international goal in extra time, tying him with Pele for the country’s all-time men’s goal record, but it wasn’t enough as Brazil crashed out of the World Cup quarterfinals for the second time in a row.
Tite’s team was frustrated for much of the game by a dominant performance from Croatia’s midfield trio of Marcelo Brozovic, Mateo Kovacic, and Luka Modric, as well as some inspired play from goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic in a cagey affair that was sent to extra time when the deadlock could not be broken in regulation time.
Croatia initially refused to be frightened by their more famed opponent and successfully smothered most of Brazil’s attempts in the first half. Brazil had little to give in terms of attack, aside from a poor Vinicius Jr. shot, with Neymar off the pace and kept out by a hardworking backline.
Croatia’s passing style appeared sharper and more talented, and towards the conclusion of the first half, they had the upper hand in possession.
A Neymar free kick shortly before halftime did not worry Livakovic as Brazil battled to find space after their previous win over a European opponent in the World Cup elimination round came in their 2002 final victory over Germany.
However, three minutes after the restart, Croatia midfielder Josko Gvardiol attempted to clear the ball but almost converted it into his own goal.
Following a VAR review, accusations of a handball by Croatia defender Josip Juranovic were dismissed before Richarlison passed through Neymar in the 55th minute, only for his close-range effort to be blocked by Livakovic.
Brazil had a much better second-half start and came close again in the 66th minute when Livakovic denied Lucas Paqueta.
The Croatian goalkeeper was kept busy, stopping Neymar in the 76th minute. He had already made more stops in the game (7) than his Brazilian opponent, Alisson, had in the whole competition (5).
5 minutes later, Livakovic saved another Paqueta shot as the few hundred Brazilian fans behind the goal grew louder and more impatient.
Brazil coach Tite appeared visibly worried as the game progressed into extra time, but Neymar’s score had them dreaming of the semifinals.
Croatia refused to give up, and Petkovic’s equalizer forced penalties, with Livakovic saving Rodrygo’s spot kick and Marquinhos hitting the post.
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