Croatia beat Brazil on penalties to reach World Cup semi-final - GulfToday

Croatia beat Brazil on penalties to reach World Cup semi-final


Croatia's Lovro Majer scores a penalty; Brazil's Marquinhos look dejected after missing a penalty; players of Croatia celebrate after qualifying to the next round on Friday. AFP / Reuters

 Croatia knocked Brazil out of the World Cup on Friday, beating the five-time champions 4-2 in a penalty shootout to reach the semifinals for the second straight time.

Croatia goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic saved a penalty attempt by Rodrygo and Marquinhos later hit the post.

The match had finished 1-1 after extra time, with both goals coming in the additional 30 minutes. Neymar scored late in the first half of extra time to give Brazil the lead, but Croatia equalized when Bruno Petkovic scored in the 117th.

Neymar’s goal moved him into a tie with Pelé as Brazil’s all-time leading scorer with 77 goals.

Croatia will next face either Argentina or the Netherlands to try to return to the World Cup final four years after losing the title to France.

Five of Croatia's last six matches at World Cups have gone to extra time, including in its penalty shootout win over Japan in the round of 16 in Qatar. The team has been successful in eight of its last 10 knockout matches at the tournament.

Brazil was trying to return to the semifinals for the first time since 2014. The team hadn’t made it to the last four since hosting the tournament eight years ago, when the Selecao was embarrassed by Germany 7-1.

Brazil was trying to defeat a European opponent in the knockout stage of the World Cup for the first time since the 2002 final against Germany, when the team won for the last time.


Seven-time Ballon d'Or winner Lionel Messi is hoping to end his wait for a World Cup after Argentina lost to Germany in the final eight years ago.

The Copa America holders go up against the Netherlands in Friday's second quarter-final at Lusail Stadium, the venue for the Dec.18 final. The two countries have met five times at the World Cup, including in the 1978 final, which Argentina won 3-1 after extra-time.

"In 2014 I was there and things ended slightly differently (from how we wanted) but I'd like to change that now," said Dutch forward Memphis Depay.

'Pretty stupid'

After Argentina's shock loss to Saudi Arabia in their first match, Messi has dazzled in Qatar and the Dutch will have to nullify his threat.

"We're not going to reveal our tactics to you (about stopping Messi). It would be pretty stupid to reveal your own tactics," said veteran coach Louis van Gaal.

"Messi is the most dangerous creative player, he is able to create a lot and to score goals himself. But when they lose the ball he doesn't participate much, this gives us chances," he said.

Attention switches on Saturday to the heavyweight clash between defending champions France and England.

Messi-Neymar-Modric Luka Modric, Lionel Messi and Neymar take part in training sessions at the Al Arabi SC Stadium, Qatar University, in Doha. AFP

France captain Hugo Lloris said the rivalry between the two countries was special. "These are two great football nations and the rivalry between us also exists in other sports like rugby," he said on Friday.

"When you get to such a high level these are great battles. At an event like the World Cup there is a special flavour to a France-England game. But we are preparing for a World Cup quarter-final, regardless of the opponent."

England boss Gareth Southgate has vowed to go on the attack, despite the threat from the fleet-footed Kylian Mbappe, who is arguably the best player in the world.

"There is no point going into a game like this and just covering up and sitting on the ropes," he told ITV. "We believe we can cause problems with the ball and we intend to do that."

In the other game on Saturday, Morocco, in the World Cup quarter-finals for the first time, take on Portugal.

Portugal on Thursday denied reports that Cristiano Ronaldo threatened to quit the camp after he was benched for their 6-1 rout of Switzerland in the last 16.

Ronaldo took to social media to say that Portugal were "too united to be broken by outside forces".

Agence France-Presse

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