Wed. Feb 1st, 2023

Martin Rogers

FOX Sports activities Insider

DOHA, Qatar — Neymar might solely bury his head in his palms, sobbing into the turf, unable to understand what had simply occurred. 

It had regarded like his evening, his time, his star flip that will propel Brazil into the semifinals of the World Cup.

The explanation why that did not occur — properly, there are numerous — however the one one which mattered on this twisting, turbulent Qatari night was that Croatia goalkeeper Domink Livakovic is an impenetrable wall on penalty kicks.

Croatia advances!

Croatia strikes into the semifinals after eliminating Brazil 4-2 in a penalty kick shootout.

For that is what it got here all the way down to, after 120 minutes and relentless pressure Friday evening, after Neymar had put his workforce into the lead with a aim of wondrous creativity halfway via further time. Nonetheless, Croatia’s utter refusal to surrender noticed them pull stage with simply 4 minutes of the extra interval remaining on this dramatic quarterfinal .

[Related: Quick guide to surviving penalty kicks at World Cup]

It did not matter that we’d not see a finer aim than the tapestry Neymar put collectively, accumulating a pair of give-and-go passes earlier than firing into the roof of the online to equal all-time icon Pele because the main all-time goal-scorer (77) for the Brazilian males’s squad.

Neither did it matter that sub Bruno Petkovic’s equalizer got here towards the run of play and took a deflection off the outstretched cleat of a Brazil defender, and even that it was Croatia’s first shot heading in the right direction in practically two hours of play.

And it did not matter that Casemiro and Pedro scored from the spot, or that Neymar was slated for the essential fifth place — as a result of it did not get that far. 

Livakovic, good in Croatia’s spherical of 16 shootout towards Japan, leaped to his left to disclaim Rodrygo and compelled Marquinhos to try such a decent angle that he smashed Brazil’s fourth kick into the publish.

Croatia-Brazil highlights | 2022 FIFA World Cup

In probably the most dramatic matchups of the event, Croatia outlasted Brazil on penalty kicks.

Nikola Vlasic, Lovro Majer, Luka Modric and Mislac Orsic have been excellent with their makes an attempt, and as Brazil heads house solely filled with regrets, the small European nation that made the ultimate 4 years in the past is steaming again to the final 4 with a flush of confidence and emotion.

Brazil has endured troublesome current instances on the World Cup. 

4 years in the past, it was a painful exit by the hands of Belgium. In 2014, hopes of a wonderful consequence when internet hosting the event have been dashed when Neymar received injured within the quarterfinal. With out him, the workforce was thrashed 7-1 by Germany within the semis.

They’ll really feel it ought to have been totally different this time, that it mustn’t have ended like this. 

Neymar’s INCREDIBLE aim!

Neymar scores an incredible aim in further time to present Brazil a 1-0 lead over Croatia.

Till Neymar’s second of magic, issues have been mighty tense. There was no dancing, as a result of this time, for a lot of the evening, Brazil had nothing to bop about. 

Regardless of Neymar’s brilliance and Richarlison’s ingenuity and Tite’s sport plan and all that expertise, Brazil couldn’t discover a method via Croatia’s stout protection, over and over and over.

Brazil began with attacking intent and confidence, having regarded so vigorous in its 4-1 spherical of 16 victory over South Korea and the flamboyant footwork that adopted every aim.

It quickly grew to become clear, nonetheless, that this may be a distinct proposition completely. 

How Brazil’s protection broke down

The “FIFA World Cup Now” crew critiques Brazil’s poor defensive effort on Croatia’s equalizer. 

Croatia, ever snug with out the ball and defending in numbers, settled into its rhythm and soaked up strain, nonetheless, a lot of it was thrown their method.

Richarlison headed over from the penalty spot with 10 minutes left in regulation, then was changed quickly after. Lucas Paqueta’s drive was comfortably saved by Livakovic, regardless of its fizzing velocity.

Croatia did not thoughts it staying scoreless and heading for an additional interval, by no means. Certainly, eight of its final 9 knockout video games in World Cups and European Championships have gone previous 90 minutes, the exception being the 2018 closing. They’re the masters of the lengthy sport.

After Neymar scored, Croatia regarded doomed. We should always have recognized higher. 

This can be a workforce that does not understand how to surrender, and, regardless that it usually depends on a defensive, counter-attacking model, it has gamers of offensive hazard.

Bruno Petkovic’s dramatic equalizer

Bruno Petkovic scores within the waning moments of additional time to maintain Croatia alive of their World Cup quarterfinal.

Petkovic’s tying aim was a left-foot strike that was cleanly hit and may need gone in even with out the slight deflection. 

The look on Neymar’s face on the time mentioned all of it. Perhaps he sensed it, possibly he did not. 

However extra ache was coming.

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Martin Rogers is a columnist for FOX Sports activities and the writer of the FOX Sports activities Insider publication. Observe him on Twitter @MRogersFOX and subscribe to the day by day publication.


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