Croatia Beats Brazil in Penalty Kicks to Continue World Cup Run


Croatia officially owns the penalty shootout.

Its most recent shootout victory — beating Brazil 4-2 — has landed its a spot in the World Cup semifinals. It took more than 100 minutes of play by the quarterfinal matchup between these two teams did not disappoint.

From the opening kickoff, Brazil gave Croatia its fare share of issues, continually forcing goalkeeper Dominik Livaković to play the hero. At the end of regular stoppage time, Brazil held a 15-6 shot advantage — eight of which were on goal, compared to Croatia’s zero. Despite this lopsided statistical report, Brazil still couldn’t capitalize through 90 minutes of play.

In overtime, Neymar finally broke through in stoppage time of the first 15-minute period. After a series of close calls by the Croatian defense, the 30-year-old Brazilian star finally made them pay with a perfect strike to the top of the net past Livaković. 

But if Croatia’s run to the 2018 World Cup Finals proved anything to the world, it’s to never count out the Vatreni.

Croatia brought pressure into the second overtime period and eventually got a response from a pair of substitutes. 

With only minutes on the close, midfielder Mislac Orsic brought the ball down the left side before slotting a cross to Bruno Petkovic. Petkovic took a clean strike at the ball, which ricocheted off a Brazilian defender and past the hands of Alisson in goal. 

Both teams entered Friday’s game having won three-consecutive shootouts but it was the Croatian side that kept its streak alive. Livaković, who made three saves in a shootout with Japan earlier this week, gave his team an early advantage by blocking 21-year-old Rodrygo’s attempt. Brazil made its next two attempts but could do little to stop the clinical Croatian approach as all four of its first penalties went past Alisson.

On the fourth attempt, Marquinhos hit the left post, ending any chance for a Brazilian comeback and denying Neymar an attempt from the spot.

Croatia now awaits the winner of Netherlands and Argentina in the 2022 FIFA World Cup semifinals. Meanwhile, Brazil finds itself once again eliminated by a European squad in the quarterfinals for the fourth time in five tournaments.

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