Croatia stunned five-time world champions and tournament favourites Brazil in a dramatic 4-2 penalty shootout win to book a place in the World Cup semi-finals.
Brazil looked to be labouring to an extra-time win over their stubborn counterparts thanks to a moment of magic from forward Neymar, who wrote himself into the history books by drawing level with Brazilian great Pele’s all-time goalscoring record of 77.
Croatia probed pragmatically, throughout while restricting and stifling Brazil’s usual rhythm before succumbing to Neymar’s brilliance in the first half of extra-time – it was very nearly checkmate.
However there was a late twist in the enchanting tale when Bruno Petkovic latched onto Mislav Orsic’s cross, benefitting from a cruel Marquinhos deflection which wrong-footed Alisson, to put Croatia on level terms with their only shot on target in the 117th minute and take the game to penalties.
Marquinhos and Rodrygo then both missed their spot-kicks in the shootout, while Croatia scored all four of theirs to defy belief and ensure progression to the last four of the tournament.
Croatia will face either Argentina or the Netherlands, who play later on Friday night, for a place in the final. The winner of the first quarter-final match at both 2014 and 2018 editions of the World Cup went on to win the tournament – could that be a telling omen for the 2018 runners-up?
More to follow…