Dominik Livaković's heroics send Croatia into semis
In the FIFA World Cup (WC) Quarter-Finals, Croatia shocked five-time champion Brazil, and Dominik Livaković was once again their hero. After 120 minutes, Bruno Petković had equalized Neymar's earlier goal, and Livaković , who had made a number of save during regular play, had saved a penalty before Marquinhos hit the post with a shot.
Given that Croatia had only given up two goals en route to the quarterfinals, the opening exchanges were close. Vinicius Junior had a good opportunity, but it was easily stopped. Neymar had the finest opportunity of the second half when a deft move ended with the Paris Saint-Germain forward hitting a feeble effort too near to Livaković.
In the final third, Zlatko Dalić's team lacked fluidity as they battled an aging but resolute Brazil defense. In a half that was primarily played in the middle of the field, the Croatians scarcely came close to Alisson's goal aside from Josip Juranović cutting inside and crazily blasting over from outside the box.
Joško Gvardiol nearly put Éder Milito's cross into his own goal right after the halftime break as the Seleçao began to play with more purpose. However, Livaković saved him by stopping Neymar at his near post and stopping Lucas Paqueta with a close-range save.
Brazil were seemingly the only team trying to win it in 90 minutes, as Croatia - who had gone to ET in their last four WC knock-out matches (excluding the 2018 final) - struggled to get out of their own half. Livaković, their Round-of-16 hero when making three saves in a penalty shoot-out, kept his side in it, making further stops from Neymar and Paquetá.
It took an additional 30 minutes to separate the two teams, but even then, Tite's side continued to dominate without receiving any points. After excellent work from Petković, Marcelo Brozović blew a rare opportunity at the opposite end, and he was made to pay when Neymar finally broke the tie. Brazil's talisman shared a lovely one-two with Paqueta in the extra time of the first half of ET before he rounded Livaković and lifted the ball into the roof of the net.
In an effort to salvage a goal for Croatia, Dalić substituted multiple attacking players. With the clock ticking down, Croatia unexpectedly equalized with their lone chance on goal when Petković's shot bounced out of Alisson's grasp and into the net. There was still time for one more twist, as Livaković produced yet another outstanding stop against Casemiro late in regulation to necessitate another round of penalties.
Brazil's first penalty kick was saved by Rodrygo, and from that point on it was an uphill task. Marquinhos went up, with Neymar still waiting to take, needing to score to keep Brazil's World Cup dream alive, but the defender hit the post. Brazil loses in the quarterfinals for the fourth time in the previous five World Cups, while Croatia advances to play either the Netherlands or Argentina in the semifinals.