Croatia defeats mighty Brazil to move on to S/Finals

After a scoreless 90 minutes Brazil took a 1-0 lead with a bit of extra time solo magic from Neymar but gritty Croatia refused to quit, with Bruno Petkovic equalising in the 117th minute to send the contest to penalties.

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Soccer Football – FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 – Quarter Final – Croatia v Brazil – Education City Stadium, Doha, Qatar – December 9, 2022 Croatia’s Dominik Livakovic celebrates with teammates after winning the penalty shootout and qualifying for the semi final REUTERS/Hannah Mckay

Croatia has defeated mighty Brazil to move to the semi final stage of the ongoing 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Croatia came from a goal down in extra time and battled past heavy favourites Brazil 4-2 on penalties on Friday to reach the World Cup semi-finals for the second consecutive time following a 1-1 draw over 120 minutes, and with one of the biggest upsets in the tournament history’s knockout phase.

Dominik Livakovic saved Rodrygo’s first penalty and Marquinhos hit the post to give Croatia a 4-2 shootout win over Brazil on Friday after their World Cup quarter-final finished level at 1-1.

After a scoreless 90 minutes Brazil took a 1-0 lead with a bit of extra time solo magic from Neymar but gritty Croatia refused to quit, with Bruno Petkovic equalising in the 117th minute to send the contest to penalties.

Croatia now await the winner of Argentina and the Netherlands who clash later on Friday.

The Croats, who needed two shootouts and an extra-time win to reach the final in 2018, then kept their composure from the penalty spot as Brazil’s Marquinhos and Rodrygo failed to convert.

“This is just for the Croatian people,” said coach Zlatko Dalic. “A great match from the first minute to the last. We eliminated the biggest favourites. This is not the end for us, let’s keep going.

“This is a victory for all of us, everyone gave their best. Thanks also to those on the bench, who also live for this national team.”

Croatia refused to be intimidated by their more illustrious opponents and in the first half successfully stifled most Brazil moves early.

Apart from a weak Vinicius Jr. shot, Brazil had little to offer in terms of attack with Neymar off the pace and shut out by a hard-working backline.

It was Croatia who looked sharper, more skilled in their passing game and with a precise game plan, and by the end of the first half they had the upper hand in terms of possession.

A Neymar free kick just before the break did not trouble Croatia keeper Dominik Livakovic as the Brazilians, whose last win over a European opponent in the knockout phase came in their 2002 final victory over Germany, struggled to find space.

They did, however, enjoy a stronger start after the break with Croatia defender Josko Gvardiol almost scoring an own goal.

Claims for a hand ball by defender Josip Juranovic were shot down following a VAR review before Neymar was sent through by Richarlison in the 55th minute only to have his close-range effort blocked by Livakovic.

The Brazilians, who have now lost four of their last five World Cup quarter-finals, all to European opposition, came close again in the 66th when Lucas Paqueta was denied by Livakovic.

(Reuters/NAN)