Croatia’s “cardiac kids” have done the unthinkable once again on football’s biggest stage after Zlatko Dalić’s men relied on penalties for the second time in the knockout stage at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar to shock tournament favorites Brazil and send Neymar and co. crashing out in the quarterfinals.
On a night where Neymar equaled Pelé’s national team goalscoring record and looked to still be in with a chance to not only become his nation’s all-time top goalscorer but also finally lift his first World Cup, Croatian shot-stopper Dominik Livaković had other ideas after he made a string of fantastic saves over the course of 120-minutes before turning hero when he stonewalled Real Madrid’s Rodrygo to open the shootout.
Croatia have now won 4 out of 4 Penalty Shootouts at World Cups. They are level with Germany and Argentina with the most Penalty Shootout wins in World Cup History.
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With that save, Livaković and Croatia became just the third nation in World Cup history to have won four penalty shootouts, joining Germany and Argentina with the most shootout wins.
All four of Croatia’s takers would convert from the spot before Marquinhos rattled the post to confirm Kockasti’s passage into the semi-finals for the third time across a young but illustrious World Cup history.
In what was their first tournament as an independent nation, Croatia shocked the world at France ‘98 when they reached the semi-finals before losing to the host nation and eventual winners but went through a barren period in terms of tournament results when they failed to get out of the group in 2002, 2006, and 2014 while failing outright to qualify for the 2010 tournament in South Africa.
But they roared back four years ago when they reached the final, to once again, lose to France but in doing so had to rely on two shootout wins along the way, with the tournament in Qatar now reading from a script that Dalić’s men know all too well. With 2022 giving one surprise after the next, there could be twists and turns left in Croatia’s football journey this winter.
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