The World Cup favorites are now out of the tournament after Brazil lost to Croatia on Friday via penalties. Despite mustering just one shot on target in 120 minutes, the Europeans advanced to the semifinals.
Croatia’s goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic was undoubtedly the star of the show. The Dinamo Zagreb shot-stopper made 10 saves throughout the match. Then, he crucially added one more in the penalty shootout. While the first half of the game was extremely even and perhaps uneventful, Brazil turned up the heat early in the second period.
Livakovic the hero again as Croatia beat Brazil on penalties
Livakovic made save after save in the second half, including some brilliant blocks with his feet. The Man of the Match performance was particularly impressive considering his opponents. Neymar, Richarlison, Vinicius, Lucas Paqueta, and Pedro regularly peppered Livakovic’s goal.
Brazil ended the 120-minute match with 20 total shots. They could not break down the Croatian defense until Neymar scored a sensational goal in the 105th minute. It was the superstar’s 77th career senior score for his country. This ties the legendary Pele for most goals for Brazil.
However, Bruno Petkovic leveled the scoreline just 11 minutes later. It was Croatia’s first and only recorded shot on target in the game. After finishing 1-1, the match was sent to penalties.
Europeans win another penalty shootout
Croatia managed to convert all four shots in the shootout. Brazil, on the other hand, saw two of their chances fail to hit the back of the net. Real Madrid star Rodrygo had a shot saved by Livakovic and Marquinhos hit the post to end the match.
The Europeans are clearly used to penalty shootouts. They advanced to this match with Brazil after beating Japan on penalties in the prior knockout round. Croatia has now won four of their five shootouts in major tournament history.
Brazil’s defeat comes at the hands of European competition yet again. In fact, the South Americans have now lost their last six knockout round matchups with Europeans in World Cup play.
With the win, Croatia advances to the semifinals for the second consecutive World Cup. They will face the winner of the Argentina-Netherlands game.
PHOTO: IMAGO / Xinhua
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