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Croatia 1-1 Brazil (aet, 4-2 pens): Neymar matches Pele but World Cup favourites crash out

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Brazil slumped out of the World Cup as Croatia won another penalty shoot-out to seal their place in the semi-finals.
FotMob - about 2 months ago

Neymar's record-equalling goal was in vain as Brazil crashed out of the World Cup with a 4-2 penalty shoot-out defeat to Croatia after a 1-1 draw on Friday.

Brazil seemed destined for the semi-finals when Neymar scored his 77th international goal, matching the great Pele, midway through extra time at Education City Stadium.

Yet Bruno Petkovic's strike deflected in off Marquinhos with four minutes remaining to force a shoot-out and the Brazil defender then missed his spot-kick to send Croatia into the last four.

Dominik Livakovic, who was the standout performer and made 11 saves in the 120 minutes before the shoot-out, had saved Rodrygo's first effort, with Neymar not taking a penalty as the favourites were sent packing.

Having denied Neymar twice in the first half with relatively simple saves, Livakovic had better stops to make after the restart, sticking out a leg to keep out Josko Gvardiol's diversion then standing tall to a close-range shot from Brazil's number 10.

Two more excellent saves, from Lucas Paqueta and Neymar, followed before the end of normal time, but the special moment required to beat Livakovic finally arrived in the 106th minute.

After a one-two with Rodrygo was followed by a swift exchange with Paqueta, Neymar had the strength and balance to hold off a defender, round Livakovic and drill home.

Yet that wondergoal was not enough as, with four minutes remaining, Petkovic's strike deflected in off Marquinhos to stun Brazil.

Livakovic, the hero against Japan in the round of 16, gave Zlatko Dalic's team the advantage by keeping out Rodrygo’s tame attempt.

And with Croatia converting all four of their spot-kicks, Marquinhos' strike against the post sent Tite's side crashing out.

What does it mean? Underdogs Croatia do not know when they are beaten

Eight of Croatia’s last nine World Cup knockout games have now gone to extra-time – the only exception is the final in 2018, which they lost to France. They were not fancied as one of the favourites but will now face Argentina or the Netherlands for a place in the final – having been runners-up four years ago.

Brazil, meanwhile, only have themselves to blame. To concede so sloppily, with such little time left, after Neymar’s moment of magic, showed a real naivety, and they paid the price in what is set to be Tite’s final game in charge, while Neymar might have played his last World Cup game.

Brazil were the 13th side to go 1-0 up during extra-time in a World Cup knockout match, but the first of those to lose.

Livakovic on the top of his game

Croatia owed their progression from the round of 16 to Livakovic, who became only the third goalkeeper to make three saves in a single World Cup penalty shoot-out with his heroics against Japan.

The Dinamo Zagreb shot-stopper took that confidence into this match, with his 11 saves the most by a Croatian in a World Cup game.

It was a stop that will not count on the official statistics that meant the most, though, with his save in the shoot-out putting the pressure squarely on Brazil.

Misery for Marquinhos

Marquinhos is one of the world’s best defenders, but his poor, half-hearted attempt at a block resulted in Petkovic's shot looping beyond Alisson.

The Paris Saint-Germain star tried to make amends in the shoot-out, only to fail to hit the target, and Brazil’s wait for a World Cup triumph since 2002 goes on.

Key Opta Facts

- Croatia have reached at least the last four of the World Cup on all three occasions that they have made it out of the group stages (1998, 2018 and 2022).

- Brazil have been eliminated from four of their last five World Cup quarter-finals. In addition, Brazil have been eliminated from each of their last six World Cup knockout games against European nations since a 2-0 victory over Germany in the 2002 final.

- Neymar's opening goal means that he has equalled Pele's record as Brazil’s all-time top scorer (77). Furthermore, Neymar has scored three goals in six World Cup appearances against European nations, with all three coming against Croatia.

- Croatia have conceded the first goal in seven of their last nine World Cup matches, with the two exceptions both finishing 0-0 (against Morocco and Belgium this year). However, they have only gone on to lose one of those matches – 4-2 against France in the 2018 final.

What's next?

Either the Netherlands or Lionel Messi's Argentina will face Croatia at Lusail Stadium on Tuesday.

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