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Croatia Stun Favourites Brazil On Penalties To Reach Semi-Finals!

Croatia produced a stunning defensive display before stunning Brazil on penalties to earn arguably the greatest result in their footballing history.

After 90 goalless minutes at the Education City Stadium, Brazil took the lead at the end of the first-half of extra time through a stunning Neymar goal.

It looked as though Croatia were finished, but right at the end of extra time, substitute Mislav Orsic broke through with a great run and set up Bruno Petkovic, whose shot was deflected past Alisson.

Croatia’s last five wins in major tournaments have now come in more than 90 minutes, with four of those coming on penalties.

It was advantage Croatia right from the off in the shootout as well, with Rodrygo’s poor penalty being saved by Livakovic after Vlasic had scored.

The decisive penalty looked as though it would be the fifth for Croatia, but Marquinhos couldn’t keep the shoot-out alive, hitting the post wiht Brazil’s fourth.

The first 90 minutes hadn’t been all that entertaining, with Croatia happy to sit deep and defend against a surprisingly dry Brazilian attack. Neymar and Lucas Paqueta did force good saves from Livakovic but neither shot looked likely to end up in the back of the net.

The goal from Neymar in extra time was worth the wait though. He played a beautiful one-two with Rodrygo before darting past Brozovic. The PSG forward then played another dazzling one-two, this time with Paqueta, before rounding Livakovic and thrashing the ball into the roof of the net, over a diving Boran Sosa.

Up until the 117 minute, it looked as though that was to be the deciding goal, with Croatia struggling to get the ball moving.

But Croatia weren’t done.

Petkovic had been fantastic since coming on and was thoroughly deserving of the goal that took the tie to penalties. After Marquinhos’ decisive miss, there was plenty of respect among the players.

Casemiro and Luka Modric were deep in conversation, while several Croatian players consoled a visibly disraguht Neymar, whose dreams of World Cup glory lie shattered.

Whilst Brazil’s display was hugely disappointing, Croatia deserve an enormous amount of credit. They had a game plan from the first minute, and it worked for 105. Conceding the goal didn’t kill them off though. In fact it did the opposite.

Penalties were once again their niche, maintaining their 100% record in World Cup penalty shoot-outs to eliminate the five-time World champions.

The reward for such a victory is a showdown with a legendary World Cup side.

Either Lionel Messi and Argentina or Virgil Van Djik and the Netherlands await Zlatko Dilic’s side in Tuesday’s semi-final.

Croatia are once again proving to be a stubborn World Cup underdog. They only played their first tournament match in the 1996 Euro’s and have now reached back-to-back semi-finals in the biggest tournament on Earth.

Luka Modric, one of the scorers in the shoot-out, has kept his own personal World Cup dreams well and truly alive, and will look to lead his side to a second-straight final on Tuesday night.

Yet another World Cup shock!

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