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Dominik Livaković stands tall as Croatia stuns Neymar and Brazil


For the primary 105 minutes of Friday’s World Cup Quarter-final match between Brazil and Croatia, one participant was the distinction. Croatia keeper Dominik Livaković. As Brazil’s gifted threats pushed ahead and pressed the assault, the keeper turned apart risk after risk.

Fittingly, he made an enormous cease throughout penalties as Croatia shocked Brazil to advance on the World Cup.

As famous, the match was stage by the primary 90 minutes and into stoppage time, because of Livaković’s heroics. However you may solely maintain a gifted assault again so lengthy, and that was the case once more Friday. Brazil and Neymar ultimately broke by, on a good looking little bit of attacking play that appeared like it might ship them by to the Semi-finals. However Croatia discovered an equalizer, setting the stage for a surprising victory for Croatia.

Livaković’s first massive cease got here at first of the second half. Brazil pressed ahead on the assault, with Raphinha bringing the ball down the suitable wing. His go in direction of the field was then redirected in entrance of the online, after which deflected in direction of Livaković, who simply managed to maintain it out along with his proper foot:

That was not the primary time the Croatian keeper could be examined within the second half. However he managed to maintain the rating stage, parrying apart the Brazilian makes an attempt. Minutes later Neymar would have one other shot on objective, after receiving a well-placed go from Richarlison. However Neymar’s left-footed shot was turned apart by Livaković:

Within the 66th minuted, Brazil had one other great scoring probability. A unfastened ball bounced within the field, and Lucas Paquetá was the primary to it, placing a right-footed shot on objective. However Livaković, coming off the road, made himself massive in entrance of the objective, and turned Paquetá’s try apart:

That will not be the one time Livaković turned Paquetá apart. Within the eightieth minute, Rodrygo discovered Paquetá simply contained in the field, however the Brazilian’s left-footed shot was dealt with by Livaković:

The match ended common time stage, and the 2 groups reset for further time. Whereas possession by the primary 90 minutes was fairly even, Brazil continued to carry a bonus over Croatia in pictures.

However Livaković’s remained the distinction by the primary 90.

Croatia had an excellent probability within the 103rd minute, on the counter. Bruno Petkovic pressed ahead alongside the Croatian left flank, and centered a go for Marcelo Brozovic simply contained in the field. However Brozovic’s try blazed over the bar, preserving the sport scoreless:

Lastly, nonetheless, the standard from Brazil — and Neymar — was an excessive amount of.

Simply as Ian Darke and Landon Donovan started to marvel if the match would have a “magical second,” Brazil’s star delivered:

This was a good looking show of passing from Paquetá, Rodrygo, and Neymar himself, because the trio poked and prodded the Croatian protection, earlier than Paquetá lastly discovered Neymar once more contained in the field. Neymar was then in a position to keep away from the problem within the field, tip-toeing across the keeper after which roofing his shot to guarantee that a artful defender couldn’t sneak again and deny him the second.

The objective was Neymar’s 77th for Brazil, placing him stage with the legendary Pelé on the nation’s all-time objective listing:

Nonetheless, the matter was not settled. Croatia nonetheless had the ultimate quarter-hour of additional time, together with any extra stoppage time, to stage the match and pressure penalty kicks.

Nevertheless, the equalizer by no means got here. With the Brazilian followers in full voice, sensing a date within the semi-finals, Croatia couldn’t set up a constant assault, and struggled to ultimate a top quality probability. It felt just like the match was slowly slipping away from the 2018 finalists.

However then, lightning struck.

Croatia broke out of their very own half, with Nikola Vlasic placing collectively a fast run earlier than discovering Mislav Orsic alongside the left aspect. Orsic pressed into the field, earlier than placing a cross alongside the bottom in entrance of the objective. It arrange completely for Petkovic, whose left-footed shot discovered the again of the online, after a deflection:

Right here is one other angle of the equalizer:

It was Croatia’s newest objective in World Cup historical past, and what a time for it:

It was sufficient. A free kick from Neymar in stoppage time gave Brazil one final probability. however Livaković stood tall another time.

With the match advancing to penalties, Croatia should have felt at dwelling. Of their run to the 2018 World Cup Remaining they superior twice on penalties, first in opposition to Denmark within the spherical of 16, after which in opposition to Russia within the quarter-final.

Would Livaković’s high quality throughout the match carry him — and Croatia — by penalties? Or would Neymar and Brazil break by in the long run?

Croatia scored first, with Vlasic changing with a rocket of a shot proper down the center, up excessive to make it tough to save lots of. Rodrygo was first for Brazil, and Livaković once more stood tall, turning the right-footed shot apart:

Up subsequent was Lovro Majer for Croatia, who got here on as an alternative. He, like Vlasic, put his shot down the center. However it labored, to provide Croatia the 2-0 benefit.

That put the stress on Casemiro for Brazil. However he calmly stepped to the spot and transformed to chop Croatia’s benefit to 2-1.

Luka Modric was up subsequent for Croatia, and he transformed the third probability for Croatia with a right-footed shot into the left nook:

The following from Croatia got here from Orsic, who earlier performed an enormous function on the Croatian equalizer. And he transformed his probability, placing all of the stress on Brazil:

It was as much as Marquinhos. He wanted to transform for Brazil to have any probability of advancing.

He didn’t:

His right-footed shot rocketed off the bar, denying him and Brazil their probability of successful the World Cup.

For the third time in two World Cups, Croatia advance by to the following spherical on penalties. Now they await the winner of the match between Argentina and the Netherlands, for an opportunity to return to the World Cup Remaining.

And for Brazil it will likely be a protracted, agonizing 4 years earlier than a shot at redemption.

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