Croatia have made it to back-to-back World Cup semi-finals as they defeated many people’s favourites Brazil 4-2 on penalties.
It was a hard fought 120 minutes of action at the Education City Stadium in which Brazil had the majority of chances in front of goal, but it took until the 16th minute of extra-time for the deadlock to finally be broken.
Neymar’s second goal of the tournament looked to have booked a semi-final place there and then for the Seleção after he fired into the roof of the net after a neat one-two with Lucas Paqueta, but Croatia’s never say die attitude was rewarded with four minutes remaining as Bruno Petkovic’s deflected shot beat Alisson to level the score, their first and only shot on target of the entire game.
Rodrygo saw his penalty saved by the incredible Dominik Livakovic, before Marquinhos effort cannoned back off the post to ensure Brazil would crash out at the quarter-final stage for the fourth time in the last five World Cup tournaments.
Most penalty shoot-outs won in World Cup history:
🇩🇪 4/4 – Germany
🇭🇷 4/4 – Croatia 🆕
🇦🇷 4/5 – Argentina
Flawless victory. 💯
— William Hill (@WilliamHill) December 9, 2022
Croatia found the net with all four of their spot kicks to equal Germany’s record as the only side to be involved in 4+ penalty shootouts in World Cup history and win 100% of them, but it’s their goalkeeper they need to thank once again.
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Not only has Dominik Livakovic saved four penalties in his last two shootouts in Qatar, with no goalkeeper making more in World Cup history, he also set the record for the most saves in a single game at the 2022 tournament (11).
Dominik Livakovic's game by numbers vs Brazil:
81.25% passing accuracy
11 saves (Most in one 2022 WC game)
7 saves from inside the box
1 penalty shootout save
— Squawka (@Squawka) December 9, 2022
Based on the quality of the shots on target he faced, the Zagreb man prevented 2.16 goals during the quarter-final to put himself firmly in the race to win the Golden Glove award after another heroic performance to ensure his country would once again make the final four.
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Since beating Germany in the 2002 final, Brazil have now failed to make the final in each of the last five tournaments, crashing out in the quarter-final stage in 2006,2010, 2018 and now 2022. Tite’s men were many people’s favourites to lift the trophy in Qatar, but have once again fallen short of their fans incredibly high expectations.
Neymar’s extra-time time strike was a special one for the PSG man as he equalled Pele’s record for the most goals in the history of the Brazilian men’s national team (77), but he won’t feel like celebrating anymore.