Croatia won another penalty shoot-out to knock out favourites Brazil and reach the World Cup semi-finals today.
The first half was fairly even, with neither side able to create a clear chance. Zlatko Dalic’s men had the best opportunity when Mario Pasalic found Ivan Perisic with a low cross, but the Tottenham Hotspur star was unable to get a clean connection on it.
As for Brazil, they had a couple of half-chances. Neymar struck two efforts straight at Dominik Livakovic, and Vinicius Junior had a long-range shot saved.
After the break, the Selecao had numerous chances to take the lead. Livakovic was called into action to prevent Josko Gvardiol from turning Eder Militao’s cross into his own net, and was then at his best to stop Vinicius after a scramble in the box. Meanwhile, there was a VAR check for a potential handball by Josip Juranovic, but nothing came of it.
Brazil continued to dominate, but they couldn’t find a way past Livakovic. Richarlison twice fed Neymar, but he saw both effort saved, and Lucas Paqueta also had an attempt turned wide for a corner. But there was nothing to separate the two sides at full time, ensuring another 30 minutes.
Croatia had an opportunity to take the lead in extra time when substitute Bruno Petkovic teed up Marcelo Brozovic following a brilliant piece of skill. However, the midfielder could only fire over the crossbar.
Then, just before half time, Brazil took the lead with a sensational team goal. Neymar exchanged passes with Paqueta to get into the box, before rounding the goalkeeper and finishing into an empty net. This was his 77th goal on the international stage, taking him level with the great Pele.
They seemed to be comfortably seeing out the victory, until the 116th minute when Croatia nicked an unexpected equaliser. Mislav Orsic burst down the left and cut back for Petkovic, whose shot took a deflection and landed in the bottom corner.
Right at the death, Brazil almost netted a dramatic winner when the ball fell kindly to Casemiro from a set piece. But, once again, Livakovic was equal to it. This was the last action of the game, taking it to penalties.
Nikola Vlasic was first to take, and he emphatically slammed his penalty down the middle. First for Brazil was Rodrygo, who saw his spot-kick saved by Livakovic.
Up next was Lovro Majer, and he also scored down the middle. He was followed by Casemiro, who powered his penalty into the bottom left corner.
Luka Modric took next, and he confidently rolled it into the bottom corner. Pedro was the next to take, and he converted in similar fashion.
Stepping up next was Orsic, who perfectly placed his penalty into the bottom left corner. Marquinhos took the next one, knowing that a miss would send Brazil out. He sent Livakovic the wrong way, but struck his penalty against the post.
For the fourth World Cup in five years, Brazil were eliminated in the quarter-finals. Croatia will face Argentina or Netherlands in the semi-finals on Tuesday.
Dominik Livakovic (9/10) *MOTM* – Made several huge saves throughout the game. Kept out Rodrygo’s penalty in the shoot-out.
Josip Juranovic (8/10) – Relentless energy down the right. Defended well against Vinicius and Rodrygo.
Dejan Lovren (7/10) – Came under a lot of pressure but didn’t buckle. Managed to limit the influence of Richarlison.
Josko Gvardiol (8/10) – Held firm against several Brazil attacks. Made a vital tackle in the lead up to Petkovic’s equaliser.
Borna Sosa (6/10) – Managed to keep Raphinha quiet. Found things tougher against Antony.
Marcelo Brozovic (6/10) – Battled and scrapped in midfield. Sometimes struggled to deal with Neymar.
Luka Modric (8/10) – Energetic and calm on the ball, as always. Scored his penalty in the shoot-out.
Mateo Kovacic (7/10) – Showed some of his quality with a few delightful dribbles.
Mario Pasalic (6/10) – Linked up well with Juranovic down the right. Created one good chance in the first half.
Andrej Kramaric (5/10) – Kept fairly quiet by Brazil’s backline. Substituted in the second half.
Ivan Perisic (5/10) – Got into a couple of promising areas but final ball was poor.
Bruno Petkovic (7/10)
Nikola Vlasic (6/10)
Lovro Majer (6/10)
Ante Budimir (6/10)
Mislav Orsic (7/10)
Alisson (4/10) – Faced one shot on target all game and it went in. Didn’t save a penalty in the shoot-out.
Eder Militao (7/10) – Managed to nullify the threat of Perisic. Didn’t offer much in attack.
Marquinhos (5/10) – Defended well for most of the game, although was rarely threatened. Missed the decisive penalty.
Thiago Silva (7/10) – Didn’t let a whole lot past him. Calm on the ball.
Danilo (5/10) – Got forward on plenty of occasions, but was often wasteful with his final ball.
Casemiro (7/10) – Had a fascinating battle with Modric in midfield. Helped Brazil control the second half.
Lucas Paqueta (7/10) – Good in possession and assisted the winning goal.
Raphinha (5/10) – Wasn’t able to make much of an impact. Substituted early in the second half.
Neymar (8/10) – Always looked the most likely to do something for Brazil. Lit up the game with a wonderful goal in extra time.
Vinicius Junior (6/10) – Had a couple of lively moments, but couldn’t find the breakthrough. Substituted on 64 minutes.
Richarlison (6/10) – Didn’t have any sights of goal, but linked up well and caused some problems.
Alex Sandro (6/10)
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