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Croatia released the Seleção on Friday and qualified for the semi-final of the 2022 World Cup. The reigning vice-world champions triumphed over Brazil after the penalty shootout.
Brazil having danced against Korea found themselves very deprived when Croatia came. The tendency was more to tears for Neymar’s teammates, eliminated in the quarter-finals by Croatia on penalties (1-1, pens 4-2), Friday, December 9. The Brazilian leader thought he had done the hardest by finding the fault in extra time but the selflessness of the Croats allowed them to stay in the game and qualify for the second consecutive edition.
Brazil can’t do it
The first period was poor in clear chances on both sides. Neither of the two formations managed to find the flaw in their opponent. Easily winners of South Korea in the round of 16 (4-1), the Brazilians led by Neymar had great difficulty infiltrating the Croatian defensive block. The white and red formation, for their part, stood out with a few brief chances, numerous ball-holding sequences, and mainly focused on isolating the Brazilian attackers to prevent combinations.
The first part of the match was also very physical with two yellow cards distributed for Danilo (25th) and Marcelo Brozovic (31st). The two teams finally left with a scoreless draw at the end of the first half.
High demand Livakovic
We have to wait for the start of the second period to see the first heat stroke of the game. It is in favor of Brazil. Twice, Croatian goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic pushes back a Brazilian center from the right side, blocked by one of his defenders, then on an attempt by Vinicius Jr (48th). The Brazilians continue to push, with attempts from Neymar (55th and 76th) and Lucas Paqueta (66th and 80th), but each time the Croatian goalkeeper is there to prevent the Seleção from taking the advantage. The Brazilian force still did not overcome the Croatian defense at the end of regulation time (0-0). Both teams go into overtime.
The first big Croatian chance in this game came in the 103rd minute. Petkovic shines with a “Brazilian” gesture and eliminates two defenders before serving Brozovic who shoots above. But it is the Seleção which finally opens the scoring through its star: Neymar. Just before the end of the first part of extra time, the Paris Saint-Germain striker accelerated and performed a “one-two” in the axis which pierced the Croatian defense. Neymar then dribbled past Dominik Livakovic and lodged the ball under the crossbar. By scoring this goal, the Brazilian number 10 equals the number of achievements in the national team of a certain… Pelé.
Another penalty shootout for Croatia
The Croats do not admit defeat. The whites and reds come back to the score in the second part of extra time thanks to Petkovic (117th) following a strike blocked by Marquinhos. Livakovic saves his family again four minutes later on a final attempt by Casemiro.
It was finally on penalties that the two teams were decided. The second in a row for the Croats after that experienced against Japan in the round of 16. And it did not fail: the whites and reds won again (4-2) ending the dreams of a sixth star for Brazil. The hero of the match is called Dominik Livakovic. On the Brazilian side, it was Rodrygo and Marquihnos who missed their shot against the Croatian goalkeeper.
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