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FIFA World Cup 2022: Croatia Livakovictorious!

Updated on: 11 December,2022 09:29 AM IST  |  Doha
Ashwin Ferro |

Croatian coach Dalic insists goalkeeper Dominik made the difference in stunning quarter-final win over five-time champs Brazil; Tite agrees

FIFA World Cup 2022: Croatia Livakovictorious!

Croatian goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic makes a save against Brazil on Friday. Pic/Getty Images

Ashwin FerroAt the end of certain football matches, one feels that there has to be a better way to decide a winner than penalty shootout. The Brazil v Croatia quarter-final at the Education City Stadium on Friday night here, was one such match. The Brazilians dominated the entire match even as their flair and movement was highly restricted by a rigid Croatian defensive formation, led by arguably one of the world’s best midfield marshalls, Luka Modric. Brazil lost 2-4 via the shootout. 

Neymar’s brilliant opener

It seemed to be Brazil striker Neymar’s night, when, in the 106th minute he showed just how precious his right ankle is, by brilliantly sidestepping Croatian goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic to score his 77th international goal and equal the legendary Pele’s record. The Brazilians even celebrated during the extra-time break as though the match had already been won. However, Modric and his men had other ideas, and in the 117th minute, off their only shot on goal, Bruno Petkovic got the ball into the back off the Brazilian net of a wicked deflection to take the match into the shootout. It was always going to be advantage Livakovic here, given he had excelled under the bar in similar circumstances when the Croatians beat Japan in the Round-of-16 recently, where he had made three saves. Here, he denied Rodrygo, while Marquinhos’s shot came off the bar to send Croatia into the semi-finals. 

Also Read: FIFA World Cup 2022: Croatia's Livakovic stops Japan's march with superlative saves in penalty shootout

Zlatko Dalic Zlatko Dalic 

Brazil coach Tite was thoroughly disappointed given the match statistics were completely in his team’s favour. “We controlled the game. We had around 20 shots with 11 on goal. Maybe we could’ve been more effective if we scored after creating so many moves and chances. But they controlled the ball only in their half of the pitch and in a little bit of ours. They just couldn’t penetrate our lines. And then off a single shot on goal, it hits our defender and finds the net. That was the only shot Croatia took,” said Tite at the post-match press conference. The veteran coach however, went on to praise Croatian goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic, who played saviour-in-chief throughout the 120-minute encounter and in a second straight penalty shootout. “Their goalkeeper had a good performance. He made around five, six, seven or eight difficult saves. He was named man of the match, you have to give credit to the opponent,” said Tite. 

Also Read: FIFA World Cup 2022: 'That night was difficult,' says Neymar

‘He made the difference’

Croatian coach Zlatko Dalic was more effusive in his praise for his custodian, calling him the difference between both teams. “Brazil created a few situations due to their quality and speed, but we were able to prevent them with our goalkeeper, who was in top shape,” said a smiling Dalic. “He [Livakovic] was the difference. He made the difference in the crucial moments. He was there to save us and he saved us. He did what he was supposed to do. He saved the first penalty and gave us confidence and more importantly, reduced Brazil’s confidence because thereafter they were afraid that he would save again,” added Dalic whose side will play Argentina in the first semi-final on December 13. 

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