DOHA, Qatar — Neymar may solely bury his head in his fingers, sobbing into the turf, unable to understand what had simply occurred.
The the reason why that did not occur — nicely, there are numerous — however the one one which mattered on this twisting, turbulent Qatari night was that Croatia goalkeeper Domink Livakovic is an impenetrable wall on penalty kicks.
Croatia advances to the semifinals after eliminating Brazil 4-2 in a penalty kick shootout.
For that is what it got here right down to, after 120 minutes and constant stress, after Neymar had put his staff into the lead with a objective of wondrous creativity halfway by means of further time, however Croatia’s utter refusal to surrender noticed them pull stage with simply 4 minutes of the extra interval remaining on this dramatic quarterfinal .
It did not matter that we would not see a finer objective than the tapestry that Neymar put collectively, accumulating a pair of give-and-go passes earlier than firing into the roof of the web to equal all-time icon Pele as Brazil’s report worldwide male goal-scorer.
Neither did it matter that sub Bruno Petkovic’s equalizer got here towards the run of play and took a deflection off the outstretched cleat of a Brazil defender, and even that it was Croatia’s first shot on the right track in almost two hours of play.
And it did not matter that Casemiro and Pedro scored from the spot, or that Neymar was slated for the essential fifth place — as a result of it did not get that far.
Livakovic, good in Croatia’s spherical of 16 shootout towards Japan, leaped to his left to disclaim Rodrygo and compelled Marquinhos to aim such a good angle that he smashed Brazil’s fourth kick into the submit.
Nikola Vlasic, Lovro Majer, Luka Modric and Mislac Orsic had been excellent with their makes an attempt, and as Brazil heads house solely filled with regrets, the small European nation that made the ultimate 4 years in the past is steaming again to the final 4 with a flush of confidence and emotion.
Brazil has endured troublesome current occasions on the World Cup.
4 years in the past, it was a painful exit by the hands of Belgium. In 2014, hopes of a wonderful final result when internet hosting the event had been dashed when Neymar received injured within the quarterfinal. With out him, the staff was thrashed 7-1 by Germany within the semis.
They may really feel it ought to have been completely different this time, that it mustn’t have ended like this.
Neymar’s INCREDIBLE objective!
Neymar scores a tremendous objective for Brazil in further time to present them a 1-0 lead over Croatia.
Till Neymar’s second of magic, issues had been mightily tense. There was no dancing, as a result of this time, for a lot of the night time, Brazil had nothing to bounce about.
Regardless of Neymar’s brilliance and Richarlison’s ingenuity and Tite’s recreation plan and all that expertise, Brazil couldn’t discover a method by means of Croatia’s stout protection, over and again and again.
Brazil began with attacking intent and confidence, having seemed so full of life within the 4-1 spherical of 16 victory over South Korea and the flowery footwork that adopted every objective.
It quickly turned clear, nonetheless, that this may be a unique proposition completely.
Croatia, ever snug with out the ball and defending in numbers, settled into its rhythm and soaked up stress, nonetheless, a lot of it was thrown their method.
Richarlison headed over from the penalty spot with 10 minutes left in regulation, then was changed quickly after. Lucas Paqueta’s drive was comfortably saved by Livakovic, regardless of its fizzing velocity.
Croatia did not thoughts it staying scoreless and heading for an additional interval, in no way. Certainly, eight of its final 9 knockout video games in World Cups and European Championships have gone previous 90 minutes, the exception being the 2018 closing. They’re the masters of the lengthy recreation.
After Neymar scored, Croatia seemed doomed. We should always have recognized higher.
This can be a staff that does not know the way to surrender, and, though it typically depends on a defensive, counter-attacking type, it has gamers of offensive hazard.
Bruno Petkovic’s dramatic equalizer
Bruno Petkovic scores within the waning moments of additional time to maintain Croatia alive of their World Cup quarterfinal.
Petkovic’s tying objective was a left-foot strike that was cleanly hit and may need gone in even with out the slight deflection.
The look on Neymar’s face on the time stated all of it. Possibly he sensed it, possibly he did not.
However extra ache was coming.
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Martin Rogers is a columnist for FOX Sports activities and the creator of the FOX Sports activities Insider publication. Observe him on Twitter @MRogersFOX and subscribe to the day by day publication.
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