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Croatia Knocks Brazil Out of the World Cup in Penalty Shootout

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AL RAYYAN, Qatar — For 45 minutes, then 90, after which 15 more, Brazil tried all of the tools in its considerable arsenal: the toe pokes and the back heels, the sweetly bending curlers and the outside-of-the-foot slices. As its frustration mounted, it pivoted to a few of soccer’s darker arts: dives and flops, shirt pulls and shoves and appeals to the referee for justice.

None of it worked. Croatia had brought a vise to a gunfight, and for greater than two long hours on Friday it calmly and methodically squeezed the life and the enjoyment out of Brazil. Croatia, opponents should know by now, doesn’t exit the World Cup with out a fight.

The Brazilians got a late goal. The Croatians answered with a fair later one. The sport went to a penalty-kick shootout. And only then, with eight quick kicks breaking a tie after 120 minutes couldn’t, was it over.

Croatia was heading to the semifinals. Brazil was going home. Again.

“For me, Brazil is football and football is Brazil,” Croatia defender Borna Sosa said. “To beat Brazil, it’s perhaps the perfect feeling ever.”

Brazil had arrived in Qatar last month with the singular goal it sets for itself at every World Cup: to win it. A five-time World Cup champion, a rustic that believes it has as rightful a claim as any nation to supremacy in the game it adores, Brazil had maneuvered through its first three games on cruise control. Its advancement had never been doubtful after winning its first match with its star, Neymar, within the lineup and splitting the subsequent two while he sat out nursing an ankle injury.

Its usual swagger had returned on Monday, with a 4-1 victory over South Korea that featured sublime passing, dancing goal celebrations and a reset of the nation’s annual expectations at sky high.

Brazil took the lead in the primary extra-time period, but saw Croatia tie the rating within the 117th minute.Credit…Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

When it began to go right on Friday, when Neymar’s goal gave Brazil the lead in additional time, the players and the nation breathed a sigh of relief. But just as suddenly, all of it went fallacious: a Croatian equalizer, a loss on penalty kicks, a quarterfinal exit as a substitute of a possible date with Argentina within the semifinals on Tuesday.

“What went fallacious is that it’s football,” Brazil goalkeeper Alisson said. “Anything can occur.”

Many fans and a few journalists immediately blamed Brazil’s coach for the defeat; after the sport, he headed off calls to quit by saying he had already decided to depart his post. Others just turned their backs.

“I’m not watching this Cup anymore,” said Andressa Valentim, 26, a forestry engineer who was crying at a restaurant in Brasilia after the loss. “For me, it’s over.”

Croatia had clawed its option to the ultimate of the last edition, in Russia in 2018, by surviving three games that went to additional time, and it had already prevailed in a single shootout in Qatar, against Japan on Monday.

“In terms of penalty shootouts, we develop into the favorites,” Croatia Coach Zlatko Dalic said through an interpreter after beating Brazil. It was, he said, “as if our opponents had already lost the sport at that time.”

The trail there had been regular, but not straight. Croatia had appeared to run out of rope at the top of the primary extra-time period, when Neymar accomplished a lightning-speed give and go to attain, giving Brazil a deserved, if delayed, lead. Its fans exhaled. Its nation did, too.

But Croatia had a response for that as well: a counterattack within the 117th minute, a pass out of nowhere and into the center, a tough shot by Bruno Petkovic deflected in to tie the rating. It was only then that the teams’ World Cup quarterfinal, scoreless after two halves and now not so after two periods of additional time, arrived on the place where so lots of Croatia’s games wind up now: in a penalty-kick shootout.

And by then even the Brazilians probably could sense the top that was coming.

Dominik Livakovic and a troublesome Croatian team knocked out tournament favorites Brazil in penalty kicks.Credit…Alex Grimm/Getty Images

4 Croatians calmly stepped up and converted their penalties. Two Brazilians — Rodrygo, who went first, and Marquinhos, who went last — didn’t.

And identical to that, Brazil, which had one foot within the semifinals lower than half-hour earlier, was out.

It could hardly imagine it. Marquinhos dropped to his knees just in front of the penalty spot after which rested his brow on the grass. Neymar, who never got to take his attempt within the shootout, held his hands over his face at midfield, then rose and bit his collar, his face a disbelieving stare. Thiago Silva got here over and gave him a kiss on the check. Daniel Alves arrived with a hug. A tear rolled down Neymar’s cheek.

On the far side of the sector, Croatia’s delirious sprints in every direction coalesced around goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic, who had saved Rodrygo’s penalty and compelled Marquinhos to attempt to cut his razor close.

Croatia, the team that won’t be beaten, will face the winner of Friday’s second game between Argentina and the Netherlands within the semifinals next week. Block out some additional time for it in the event you plan to look at.

Brazil cannot say it didn’t try all the things to win. When Vinícius Júnior and Richarlison and Raphina couldn’t discover a well beyond Livakovic, Antony and Rodrygo and Pedro were sent on to try. When Neymar finally found a way through, the lead lasted only about quarter-hour. The pressure returned. The exit door loomed.

Croatia’s shootout was as clinical as its broader performance was methodical. Nikola Vlasic went left. Lavro Majer went down the center. Luka Modric shot high. Mislav Orsic shot low.

When, a moment later, Marquinhos pinged his attempt solidly off the left post, the sector was quickly awash in colours of individuals still attempting to sort out what had just happened. The Brazilians, the favorites wearing their famous yellow shirts, staggered around or stood in place or sat off to the side, resigned to the proven fact that the country will now wait one other 4 years so as to add to its record haul of 5 World Cup titles.

Leonardo Perisic, the son of Croatia’s forward Ivan Perisic, ran to midfield to shake the hand of a crying Neymar.Credit…Adrian Dennis/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Croatia’s red-and-white-checked celebration was in every single place by then, a haphazard sea of flags and hugs and shirtless men and running children scattered around the sector. One in all Modric’s children leaped into his arms. Lovren took certainly one of his by the hand for a walk. And in the middle of the sector, Leonardo and Manuela Perisic, the kids of Croatia forward Ivan Perisic, made a bee line for the middle circle, toward Neymar, who was then wrapped in a teary embrace with a teammate.

A Brazil staff member stepped in to go off Leonardo, extending an arm to suggest it won’t be the precise time. But Leonardo had caught Neymar’s eye, and the Brazilian turned toward him. The boy and the superstar clasped hands. Neymar cradled the boy’s head. They exchanged a quick word. Then they parted, the boy running off along with his sister, back to the Croatian celebrations. Neymar soon headed to the locker room, toward one other long wait.

James Wagner contributed reporting from Al Rayyan, and André Spigariol from Brasilia.

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