Croatia beat Brazil on penalties to reach World Cup semi

Croatia beat Brazil after a 1-1 draw after 120 minutes; Croatia prevailed 4-2 on penalties to go to the World Cup semifinals on Friday. Neymar, a superstar for the five-time world winners Brazil, thought he had won the game with a goal in extra time. 

Brazil’s hearts were broken in Doha’s Education City Stadium after Croatia equalized with three minutes remaining in extra time thanks to a left-footed goal from substitute Bruno Petkovic. As Marquinhos and Rodrygo of Brazil both missed penalty kicks, the Croats maintained their cool.

After refusing to back down from their more famed opponents, Croatia spent the first half effectively stifling Brazil’s early attempts to gain any foothold in the game. With Neymar slowing down. Being denied by a tenacious defence, Brazil offered little in the way of offensive opportunities aside from a poor shot from Vinicius Jr. By the end of the first half, Croatia had the upper hand in terms of possession and had appeared the sharper, more skilled team in their passing game and precise game plan.

Croatia beat Brazil on penalties to reach the World Cup semi.

Brazil, who last beat a European opponent in the knockout phase in 2002’s final victory over Germany, struggled to create space. A Neymar free kick right before halftime did not concern Croatia goalie Dominik Livakovic. Three minutes after the resumption of play, though, they came close to taking the lead when Josko Gvardiol nearly scored an own goal while trying to clear the ball.

The VAR ruled against a handball accusation against defender Josip Juranovic seconds later. Then in the 55th minute, Neymar was passed through on goal by Richarlison, but Livakovic saved his close-range drive. The Brazilians had a much stronger start to the second half, and they came near again in the 66th minute when Livakovic stopped Lucas Paqueta, but they ultimately went on to lose the match and the World Cup for the fourth time in five tournaments.

The match ended with the Croatian goalkeeper making more saves (7 total) than his Brazil counterpart, Alisson, had made throughout the tournament (five). Five minutes later, as the few hundred Brazil fans in the stands got louder and more impatient as the game slowly dribbled into extra time, Livakovic parried another Paqueta shot. Brazil coach Tite appeared visibly concerned.

Having been relatively subdued up to that point, Neymar scored the game-tying goal in first-half stoppage time by attacking from outside the box, playing two consecutive one-twos to confuse the tired Croatian defence, and finally rounding the keeper to tie Brazil great Pele’s record of 77 international goals. Petkovic’s equalizer forced penalties, and the Croats ultimately prevailed after Livakovic saved Rodrygo’s penalty kick and Marquinos hit the post in the shootout.

Croatia beat Brazil on penalties to reach World Cup semi

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