The cardiac kids have done it once again in the knockout stages at a World Cup as Croatia broke Brazilian hearts tonight in a 4-2 penalty shootout win at Education City Stadium after coming back from a late 1-0 deficit with just minutes remaining in extra time before drawing level to once again take their chances from 12-yards out.
Dominik Livaković was once again the man of the moment after repeatedly keeping his country in it with a string of top-class saves across 120 minutes before penalties ensued.
Matters on the pitch were even between the 2018 finalist and the current tournament favorites, with Croatia looking much improved over previous performances this winter in Qatar as Zlatko Dalić’s Kockasti did well to rely on their tournament know-how rose to the surface once again while looking more than organized enough to better cope with Brazil’s vaunted front line.
But Brazil still crafted chances as you would expect them to, especially through Real Madrid starlet Vinícius Júnior earlier on in the first half, but real guilt-edged chances came at a premium until after the half-time interval.
Croatian shot-stopper Dominik Livaković continued his superb form in goal for the European outfit when he made a string of three saves from close range as Brazil looked to turn the screw just after the interval while looking to take a much-desired 1-0 lead, with Livaković coming up big once again in the 65th minute when he stood tall once again from point-blank range as he continued to deny the South American juggernaut an opener as the clock inched closer to the possibility of extra time.
Brazil produced a typical free-flowing move in the 76th minute when Rodrygo picked the ball up in the middle third of the pitch before finding space to burst into to then find Richarlison at the top of the box. The Tottenham man then found an on-rushing Neymar who was, once again, stonewalled by Livaković as Tite’s men simply could not find a way to beat the Dinamo Zagreb keeper despite putting six of nine shots on frame by that point.
Extra time was not to be avoided, however, as Croatia once again looked to progress deep in another World Cup tournament while doing it the hard way after needing extra time on three occasions four years ago in Russia while now going into their second spell of extra time in two knockout stage fixtures in Qatar.
Croatia had probably their best chance in the 103rd minute after second-half substitute Bruno Petković skipped past two defenders before finding Marcelo Brozovic free at the top of the box but the Inter Milan midfielder could only sky his effort clear over Alisson’s bar in an effort that surely came down to heavy legs.
And in a moment of magic just one minute later, Neymar finally found the breakthrough Brazil was desperate for after he combined with both Rodrygo and Pedro with a silky one-touch passage of play to put the South Americans 1-0 up while equalling Pelé’s national team goal-scoring record.
That lead would not stand the test of time, however, with Croatia clawing back level with just three minutes remaining in extra time after Petković put one past Alisson when his effort deflected slightly off Marquinhos after Mislav Oršić broke down the left side and into space before squaring to the top of the box to find the center-forward in space to shoot.
It would end all square at one apiece as Croatia, once again, took a knockout stage match to penalties, and once again, came out the other end as winners.
Croatia Player RatingsDominik Livaković (GK): 9Josip Juranović (RB): 7Dejan Lovren (CB): 6.5Joško Gvardiol (CB): 6.5Borna Sosa (LB): 7Marcelo Brozović (DM): 7Luka Modrić (CM): 7Mateo Kovačić (CM): 7Mario Pašalić (RW): 6.5Ivan Perišić (LW): 6Andrej Kramarić (CF): 6.5Nikola Vlasić (Sub): 6Bruno Petković (Sub): 7Lovro Majer (Sub): 6Ante Budimir (Sub): 6Mislav Oršić (Sub): 7Brazil Player RatingsAlisson (GK): 6.5Éder Militão (RB): 7Thiago Silva (CB): 6.5Marquinhos (CB): 6Danilo (LB): 7Lucas Paquetá (CM): 6.5Casemiro (CM): 7Neymar (CAM): 7Raphinha (RW): 6Vinícius Júnior (LW): 6.5Richarlison (CF): 6.5Antony (Sub): 7Rodrygo (Sub): 7Pedro (Sub): 6.5Alex Sandro (Sub): 6Fred (Sub): 6Who else has the feeling Alisson is going to be very important to Brazil quite soon?
— Caoimhe O’Neill (@CaoimheSport) December 9, 2022