Brazil, the favorite to win this year’s World Cup, is out of Qatar 2022 after losing to Croatia on penalties 1-1 (4-2) in Friday’s dramatic quarterfinal.
It looked as though Neymar had won it for Brazil after he scored a stunning solo goal in extra time – tying Pele’s international scoring record for the Seleção with his 77th goal – but Bruno Petković broke Brazilian hearts with a last-gasp equalizer to send the game to penalties.
It was Croatia’s goalkeeper Dominik Livaković who was the hero yet again in the shootout, saving Rodrygo’s first effort before defender Marquinhos saw his attempt hit the post, which sent Croatia through to the semifinals.
Livaković had also saved three penalties in his side’s victory against Japan in the previous round.
It was a dizzying end to another remarkable game in Qatar, which took until extra time to really get going.
The game was largely reduced to scrappy half chances and resolute defending to keep the scores level in the second half.
Raining on Neymar’s parade:
With extra time underway, Neymar produced arguably the moment of the tournament so far. The star attacker dropped deep to pick up the ball and split the Croatian defense with two bounce passes with teammates. He then fired his effort into the roof of the net.
The goal sparked frenzied celebration inside the Education City Stadium, with Neymar close to tears after seemingly inspiring his side into the semifinals.
But football can be cruel and Croatia never gave up.
In the 116th minute, Petković stunned Brazil by sweeping home the equalizer and forcing the game into penalties with his side’s first shot on target.
Despite being captain and his team’s star player, Neymar did not take a penalty with Croatia – which has now won four World Cup shootouts – scoring all of its efforts before Brazil could even take its fifth.
Croatia, the beaten finalists in 2018, will now face Argentina for a place in the World Cup final.