‘Don't Stop the Belief': Croatia Relishes Comeback Win Over Mighty Brazil


Croatia just shocked the world.

Well, the rest of the world. The Croatians on the field during Friday’s upset World Cup quarterfinal win over Brazil always believed.

“Definitely something special,” Croatian defender Dejan Lovren said after the victory. “Against the favorite for the World Cup. To win it against Brazil, a fantastic team.”

For over 100 minutes, Croatia hung tough against five-time champion Brazil in a 0-0 deadlock. At that point, with goalkeeper Dominik Livaković stopping nearly everything in sight, the Vatreni would’ve been happy to get to penalty kicks.

Neymar had other ideas, though, scoring a brilliant goal in stoppage time of the first half of extra time.

But even down 1-0 with 15 minutes to play, Croatia stuck together. Time kept ticking, and in the 117th minute Bruno Petkovic equalized the match for the Vatreni to force penalty kicks.

“We said it in the last half of the last 15 minutes: Don’t stop the belief,” Lovren explained. “Everyone said that, and we knew we would come back, no matter how hard it was in some moments. We are really special.

“Never surrender, never keep your head down. We are a really small country, but today we showed that we are big.”

The final moments of the 120-minute match ran out without another score, which sent the quarterfinal match to penalty kick. At that point, with a dominant keeper in net, Lovren knew Croatia had the edge.

“Throughout the game I was a little bit suspicious of how it would ultimately end,” Lovren admitted. “But when the penalty (kicks) came again, I was really calm. Livaković is one of the best goalkeepers for penalties, and maybe of this tournament also.”

Lovren’s instincts proved to be correct. Croatia buried all four penalty kicks, while Brazil scored just twice —Livaković saved Rodrygo’s first shot, Marquinhos hit the post on the fourth shot.

The Croatians now head to the semifinals for the second straight World Cup after their 2018 tournament ended in a loss to France in the final.

Croatia will return to the pitch at Lusail Iconic Stadium in Qatar for the semifinal against the winner of Argentina-Netherlands on Tuesday at 2 p.m. ET.

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