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Friday, February 3, 2023

FIFA World Cup: Croatia Stuns Brazil to Enter the Semi-finals

Petkovic's late goal helped Croatia equalize with Brazil before enforcing the penalty shootout

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Aditya Saikrishna
Aditya Saikrishna
I am 21 years old and an avid Motorsports enthusiast.

QATAR: Brazil was eliminated from the World Cup in a heartbreaking manner in a stunning penalty shootout loss to Croatia on Friday.

Neymar scored his 77th international goal in extra time, tying legend Pele for Brazil’s all-time men’s goal record. However, it was not enough to prevent Brazil from reaching the World Cup quarterfinals for the second consecutive time.

Photo Credit: Twitter/FIFAWorldCup

Tite’s team was frustrated most of the game because Croatia’s midfield trio of Marcelo Brozovic, Mateo Kovacic, and Luka Modric played well, and goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic also played well.

The cagey game went to extra time because neither team could register an outright win in regulation time.

Neymar, who had been quiet up until that point, thought he had scored an extra-time goal. He deflected a shot from the edge of the box past Livakovic and into the back of the net.

However, with just four minutes remaining, Croatia, the runners-up in 2018, responded with a goal from Bruno Petkovic that was deflected and brought the score to 1-1.

Brazil lost the penalty shootout after Rodrygo missed the first and Marquinhos missed the fourth, but Croatia won with all their kicks for a memorable victory.

Croatia, who have won two straight knockout games on penalties, will play either Argentina or the Netherlands in the semi-finals on Tuesday or later on Friday.

Croatia successfully stifled most of Brazil’s early moves in the first half, refusing to be intimidated by their more prominent opponents.

Brazil’s only attack came from a weak Vinicius Jr. shot, and Neymar was hindered by a hardworking backline, keeping Brazil at bay.

Croatia looked more honed and gifted in their passing game, and toward the end of the first half, they had the upper hand in terms of possession.

Livakovic did not seem to be bothered by Neymar’s free-kick just before the break. Brazil, whose only previous knockout round victory came against Germany in 2002, struggled to find the net.

However, three minutes after the game’s start, Josko Gvardiol, Croatia’s midfielder, tried to clear the ball, but he almost scored his own goal. The blunder by Gvardiol gave Brazil a chance to take the lead.

After that, the referee denied claims made by Croatian defender Josip Juranovic for a handball after a VAR review, and Richarlison sent through Neymar in the 55th minute. Still, Livakovic stopped his close-range attempt.

Brazil participated in a significantly improved start to the final set and came close again in the 66th when Livakovic denied Lucas Paqueta.

The Croatia goalkeeper had a busy second half of the game, stopping Neymar in the 76th minute. At that point, he had made seven more saves in the match than Alisson did in the entire tournament for Brazil.

Five minutes later, as the Brazilian fans gathered behind the goal and grew more impatient, Livakovic stopped another shot from Paqueta.

Tite, Brazil’s coach, was nervous when the game went into overtime, but Neymar’s goal gave them hope for the semi-finals.

However, Croatia did not give up, and Petkovic’s equaliser resulted in penalties. In the penalty shootout, Livakovic saved Rodrygo’s spot kick, but Marquinos hit the post.

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Also Read: Brazil All Set to Face Croatia in QF

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