Tournament favourites Brazil were knocked out of the World Cup on penalties as Croatia kept their nerve to edge through to the semi-finals.
Croatia, beaten finalists four years ago, scored with all four of their spot-kicks as Rodrygo – taking his team’s first kick – was denied by the brilliant Dominik Livakovic and Marquinhos’ crucial fourth effort struck the post.
As the ball hit the foot of the woodwork and bounced away, Croatia’s team sprinted to celebrate with their goalkeeper, while the Brazil players hit the turf, knowing their dream of a sixth crown had come to an end.
After an engrossing 90 minutes, Tite’s men thought they had won it in extra time when Neymar scored a thumping effort to equal Brazil’s ‘official’ men’s goalscoring record.
But substitute Bruno Petkovic had other ideas, stroking in a 116th-minute equaliser with Croatia’s first shot on target in the match to take the game to the nerve-shredding shootout.
And it was the European side who emerged victorious once more, having done so by the same method against Japan in the last 16, to set up a semi-final meeting with the Netherlands or Argentina on Tuesday.
Croatia show endurance to stun favourites
This wasn’t in the script.
Brazil were supposed to dance through to the last four in their quest for another star on their shirt but their hopes were ended in the cruellest fashion.
Neymar, who scored his 77th international goal to equal Pele’s official mark, now shares a record recognised by Fifa but not the national team – as they also counted goals netted by their three-time World Cup winner in friendlies against club sides.
And the Paris St-Germain forward will not get the opportunity to surpass the legend at this tournament, as Brazil suffered woe against a European nation once again. Since beating Germany in the 2002 final, they have been knocked out of five successive World Cups by a team from Europe.
This was supposed to be Neymar’s moment, standing up for his side when they needed him most with a clinical finish to complete a slick team move, but he was left in tears after the shootout.
He should have won it for them in normal time but neither he nor Lucas Paqueta could find a way past the inspired Livakovic, who made a total of 11 saves, the most by a goalkeeper at this tournament.
Though most were routine, Livakovic had to be in the right place at the right time to make the stop and he certainly was with Brazil’s first penalty, diving the right way to push out Rodrygo’s strike.
Croatia are a well-organised and stubborn outfit, but they did not managed a shot on target until four minutes from the end of extra time, as Petkovic’s side-footer beat Alisson.
Zlatko Dalic’s men displayed their mental fortitude and powers of endurance once more to go through – as eight of their past nine knockout matches at major tournaments have now ticked into extra time.
Once this one went to penalties, Nikola Vlasic, Lovro Majer, the evergreen Luka Modric and Mislav Orsic were all successful with their efforts to take Croatia through to their third World Cup semi-final.
- 19SosaSubstituted forBudimirat 110′minutes
- 11BrozovicBooked at 31minsSubstituted forOrsicat 114′minutes
- 8KovacicSubstituted forMajerat 105′minutes
- 15PasalicSubstituted forVlasicat 72′minutes
- 9KramaricSubstituted forPetkovicat 72′minutesBooked at 117mins
- 14MilitãoSubstituted forAlex Sandroat 105′minutes
- 4MarquinhosBooked at 77mins
- 3Thiago Silva
- 2DaniloBooked at 25mins
- 7Lucas PaquetáSubstituted forFredat 105′minutes
- 5CasemiroBooked at 68mins
- 11RaphinhaSubstituted forAntonyat 56′minutes
- 20Vinícius JúniorSubstituted forRodrygoat 64′minutes
- 9RicharlisonSubstituted forPedroat 84′minutes
- 6Alex Sandro
- 13Alves da Silva
- 17Bruno Guimarães
- 22Éverton Ribeiro
- Michael Oliver
Match ends, Croatia 1(4), Brazil 1(2).
Penalty Shootout ends, Croatia 1(4), Brazil 1(2).
Penalty missed! Still Croatia 1(4), Brazil 1(2). Marquinhos (Brazil) hits the left post with a right footed shot.
Goal! Croatia 1(4), Brazil 1(2). Mislav Orsic (Croatia) converts the penalty with a right footed shot to the bottom left corner.
Goal! Croatia 1(3), Brazil 1(2). Pedro (Brazil) converts the penalty with a right footed shot to the centre of the goal.
Goal! Croatia 1(3), Brazil 1(1). Luka Modric (Croatia) converts the penalty with a right footed shot to the bottom left corner.
Goal! Croatia 1(2), Brazil 1(1). Casemiro (Brazil) converts the penalty with a right footed shot to the bottom left corner.
Goal! Croatia 1(2), Brazil 1. Lovro Majer (Croatia) converts the penalty with a left footed shot to the centre of the goal.
Penalty saved! Rodrygo (Brazil) fails to capitalise on this great opportunity, right footed shot saved in the bottom right corner.
Goal! Croatia 1(1), Brazil 1. Nikola Vlasic (Croatia) converts the penalty with a right footed shot to the high centre of the goal.
Penalty Shootout begins Croatia 1, Brazil 1.
Second Half Extra Time ends, Croatia 1, Brazil 1.
Hand ball by Fred (Brazil).
Attempt saved. Casemiro (Brazil) left footed shot from the left side of the six yard box is saved in the centre of the goal.
Attempt blocked. Marquinhos (Brazil) header from the centre of the box is blocked.
Foul by Ivan Perisic (Croatia).
Antony (Brazil) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Dejan Lovren (Croatia) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Attempt missed. Lovro Majer (Croatia) left footed shot from outside the box misses to the left. Assisted by Josip Juranovic.
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