It was a dramatic encounter at the Education City Stadium which was the venue for the first quarterfinal match of today when runners-up at the last World Cup, Croatia locked horns with South American giants Brazil for a place in the semifinals of Qatar 2022 World Cup.
The game was cagey for most parts of the first half with Brazil forced to sideway passes because of the somewhat defensive setup which the Croatians had. The Europeans had chances to counter the Brazilians but lacked the cutting edge in front of the goal. The Seleção had chances through the flanks but Dominik Livaković was a fortress in goal for the Croatians when Brazil turned up the pressure in the second half.
When it was obvious that the game was going to end goalless after regulation time, most football observers started to think of the Russia 2018 World Cup and how the Croatians were able to play all their knockout games into extra time except for the final which they lost to France. After the commencement of the first half of extra time, Brazil was able to overrun the Croatians and in the 14th minute, Neymar Jr was able to put Brazil ahead after sleekly combining with his teammates before roofing the ball in the back of the net.
Croatia looked stunned and went into halftime down but not out. Their efforts were later rewarded when Bruno Petković’sdeflected shot equalized the game 3 minutes to the end of the game. This sparked wild celebrations amongst the Croats and disbelief was on the faces of the Brazilians.
Petković’s goal was the last major action before the dreaded penalty shootout began. Croatia took the first spot kick and scored but it was 21-year-old Rodrygo that was the first casualty from the spot when was his effort saved by Dominik Livaković. Croatia ensured that all of theirs was converted and after Marquinhos missed again for Brazil, their fate was sealed and Croatia marched on to the semifinals.
Brazil had failed to win against European opposition in the knockout stage of the World Cup after defeating Germany 2 – 0 in the final of the World Cup in Korea/Japan in 2002.
Croatia will now face the winner of the second quarterfinal game between Netherlands and Argentina for a place in the final.