Al Rayyan, Qatar, Dec 9 (EFE).- Five-time World Cup winners Brazil will have to wait till 2026 for their next chance to hoist the trophy for a sixth time after losing to Croatia on penalties here Friday in the quarterfinals at Qatar 2022.
The Canarinha have failed to reach the semifinals in four of the last five World Cups and their most recent triumph in the competition was two decades ago.
Croatia, the 2018 runners-up, defended well against talent-laden Brazil and goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic maintained his run of good form, making nine saves in regulation to force the game into extra-time.
But at the end of the first extra-time period, Brazil captain Neymar shattered the stalemate with an outstanding effort.
A textbook give-and-go with Paqueta set up the Paris Saint-Germain striker to skip around Livakovic and fire the ball into the roof of the net.
With his 77th international goal, Neymar drew level with Brazil legend and three-time World Cup winner Pele, who has been following the 2022 tournament from a hospital bed.
The Brazilian players and the supporters – who made up the majority of the nearly 44,000 people in the stands at Education City Stadium – celebrated as if the game were already in the bag.
Their euphoria turned out to be premature, as Bruno Petkovic equalized for Croatia in the 117th minute with a shot that deflected off Marquinhos and out of the reach of Brazil keeper Alisson.
The goal came on the Croatians’ first shot on target.
Casemiro had a chance to win it for the Canarinha in the dying seconds, only to see Livakovic produce another solid stop to send the contest to penalties.
Croatia went first and Nikola Vlasic converted with assurance before watching Livakovic – who saved three penalties against Japan in the knockout stage – deny Rodrygo.
Lovro Majer, the ageless Luka Modric and Mislav Orsic went on to score for Croatia and Casemiro and Pedro did likewise for Brazil,
With the Balkan side leading 4-2, Marquinhos hit the post to seal Brazil’s elimination.
Croatia will face the winner of Friday night’s clash between Argentina and the Netherlands. EFE id/dr