By Sedara Oluwadara
Croatia booked their place in the World Cup semi-finals as they edged past Brazil on penalties following extra-time dramatics.
The five-time champions enjoyed the better of the opportunities in what was a competitive affair but found Croatia keeper Dominik Livakovic an imperious oppponent and the match headed into extra-time.
Neymar looked to be the man to decide the tie as he danced through the Croatian defence and thundered home an uber-dramtic strike as Brazil seemingly put one foot in the semi-finals.
Croatia were not to be denied though as a flowing move was polished off by Bruno Petković to send the game into a penalty shootout.Rodrygo’ and Marquinhos missed from the spot as Croatia secured their place at their second-consecutive World Cup semi-final where they will take on Argentina or Netherlands.
Here are the key talking points from the Education City Stadium:
Having plundered four in the first-half against South Korea in the round of 16, Tite’s men were not able to continue their scintilating form against Croatia.
The five-time world champions struggled to cut through their opponents having been kept at arms’ length throughout the majority of the opening period with just three shots on target.
Vinicius Jr. arguably had the best chance of the first-half as he played an excellent one-two with Richarlison but saw his eventual shot well blocked by Josko Gvardiol – the RB Leipzig defender having been a hugely impressive performer for Croatia in Qatar.
Whilst Brazil’s seeming lack of threat would have been a surprise, they have actually failed to net a first-half goal in six out of their last seven World Cup matches so a goalless first-half was potentially not as unusual as first perceived.