News ID: 109977
Publish Date : 10 December 2022 - 21:44

Croatia Oust Favorites Brazil 4-2 on Penalties to Reach Semifinal

AL RAYYAN, Qatar (Reuters) - Croatia stunned favorites Brazil 4-2 on penalties on Friday to reach the World Cup semifinals for the second time in a row after battling back from a goal down in extra time, in one of the biggest knockout-phase upsets in the tournament’s history.
The 2018 runners-up came through their second straight shootout after beating Japan on penalties in the last 16 and will now face Argentina.
In an evening filled with tension and drama, Brazil superstar Neymar thought he had won it for the five-time champions when he rifled in an extra-time goal.
But Brazil were punished for letting their guard down, with substitute Bruno Petkovic drilling in an 117th-minute equalizer with their one and only shot on target, breaking Brazilian hearts in the Education City Stadium.
The Croats, who needed two shootouts and an extra-time win to reach the final in 2018 and now have a perfect four-out-of-four record in World Cup penalty shootouts, kept their composure as Brazil’s Marquinhos and Rodrygo failed to convert.
Croatia refused to be intimidated by their more illustrious opponents, and in the first half successfully stifled most Brazil moves.
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.
The Brazilians, whose last win over a European opponent in the knockout phase came in their 2002 final victory over Germany, enjoy a stronger start after the break with Croatia defender Josko Gvardiol almost scoring an own goal.
Neymar came even closer in the 55th when he was sent through by Richarlison but keeper and man-of-the-match Dominik Livakovic blocked it.
The Brazilians, who have now lost four of their last five World Cup quarter-finals, all to European opposition, missed another chance in the 66th when Lucas Paqueta was denied by Livakovic.
The Croatia keeper was kept busy and again stopped Neymar in the 76th, having by that time amassed more saves in the match (seven) than his Brazil counterpart, Alisson, had in the entire tournament (five).
He then parried another Paqueta shot five minutes later as the few hundred Brazil fans in the stands grew louder and more impatient and the game ticked over into extra time, with Brazil coach Tite visibly nervous.
In stoppage time in the first period, Neymar launched an attack outside the box, played two consecutive one-twos to bamboozle the tired Croatian defense and then rounded the keeper and fired in to equal Brazil great Pele’s record of 77 international goals.