Livakovic the hero for dark horses Croatia – DW – 12/09/2022

Domink Livakovic was the penalty shootout hero for a second successive match as he earned Croatia a hard-earned victory over World Cup favourites Brazil.

The 27-year-old saved Rodrygo’s spot-kick before Marquinhos missed the five-time champions fourth effort meaning Croatia moved a step closer to reaching back-to-back World Cup finals.

Following a goalless 90 minutes, Neymar looked to have taken his side to the final four, as the forward drew level with the legendary Pele as Brazil’s top goalscorer, having driven through the heart of an otherwise resolute Croatian defence in the last seconds of the first half of extra time. 

The Paris Saint Germain striker played a tidy one-two with Lucas Paqueta before dribbling around goalkeeper Livakovic and slamming the ball into the roof of the net.

But, with just four minutes of time remaining Croatia’s captain Luka Modric drove forward and found Mislav Orsic in space on the left to cross for Bruno Petkovic, whose shot lacked power but was fortunate to cannon past Alisson after deflecting off Marquinhos. It was Croatia’s only shot on target in the entire 120 minutes.

Brazil were far from their fluent best during the match as Livakovic pulled off a series of second-half stops, the most impressive with his legs after Richarlison and Neymar had combined to carve open the 2018 runners-up’s defence before the latter saw his strike repelled. 

The 27-year-old shot-stopper kept out strikes from Vinicius Jnr, Paqueta and Antony as an increasingly desperate Brazil peppered his box before his penalty shooutout heroics stole the show and secured Croatia safe passage into the semifinals.

Edited by James Thorogood

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