Brazil were taken to extra time and penalties by Croatia, with their attempt to land a sixth triumph ended by a shootout defeat as the European side made it through to the semi-finals of the World Cup 2022.
The first half was a mainly attritional affair, with Brazil only sporadically clicking into gear and Croatia having large spells in possession, albeit with a blunt attack.
After the restart the match opened up somewhat with the Selecao having a few counter-attacks causing danger and goalkeeper Dominik Livkovic being called upon to make one-on-one blocks, but quality in the final third remained lacking.
Extra time was as tense as ever but Neymar finally opened the scoring after a superb exchange of passes - only for a deflected Bruno Petkovic shot to change matters only minutes before the whistle, sending the game to penalties where Petkovic saved from Rodrygo and watched Marquinhos hit the post.
Here are the player ratings from the first quarter-final.
Dominik Livakovic, 9. A very comfortable first half, with just the odd shot to catch centrally. One good stop from his own defender just after the restart and then a near-post save off Neymar soon after hinted at how it would be a much busier second; his one-on-one stop from Paqueta was brilliant. Same again on Neymar from a narrower angle, but couldn’t stop the forward in extra time. Saved from Rodrygo in the shootout.
Josip Juranovic, 8. The stand-out performer in the first 45’, his speed and ball-carrying livened up the match and raised the tempo of his nation’s build-up play. Almost got on the end of a cross early on, then continually tested Danilo. Faded later but still very good.
Dejan Lovren, 7. One or two clumsy challenges but stood firm to aerial deliveries into the box. Played a lot of passes from deep to get his team upfield. Started the move which ended in the equaliser.
Josko Gvardiol, 8. Too fast and strong for Richarlison to hve much impact. Big block early in the second half to keep the scores level and good recovery work at times.
Borna Sosa, 5. Put himself about a bit but most of the action came on the opposite flank in an attacking sense. Started the game well defensively but Antony started to destroy him as the game went on and missed the last challenge on Neymar for the goal.
Marcelo Brozovic, 8. Superb from very early on with his first touch and moving the ball through the thirds, though booked for a first-half foul and committed a couple more after, too.
Luka Modric, 7. A little off the pace early on in truth, but did quickly pick up the tempo as his side got on the ball more. Did probe at times and tried to get his team moving through the gears but it took until late on for his decisive pass.
Mateo Kovacic, 7. As hard-working as ever and some excellent ball-carrying in the first half. As the match wore on though he was required to do more and more defensive work. Very consistent all
Mario Pasalic, 7. Two good deliveries from the right which caused danger and offered an outlet at times, without sacrificing the teamwork needed to bulk up the middle third at times.
Andrej Kramaric, 4. Trundled around like a tractor in low gear across an overgrown potato field. Very little hold-up play, never a goal threat. Only livened up when he got into wider areas to help stretch play.
Ivan Perisic, 6. Spurned a decent chance early on and curled another off-target. Wasn’t as involved in the build-up play as usual but did a job for the team overall.
Subs: N Vlasic 5, B Petkovic 5, Majer 6, Budimir 6, Orsic 8
Alisson, 6. Watching brief other than a couple of aerial claims. One routine palm-away which otherwise might have seen danger but Croatia didn’t really play in behind the defence and didn’t have a shot on target. Beaten by a deflected strike in extra time; only close to one penalty but couldn’t stop any.
Eder Militao, 6. Quiet at right-back, reserved in his positional work and dealt fine with any runners out the outside, yet allowed Perisic to cut in a bit more at times.
Marquinhos, 7. Not really required to do too much direct defending in his own box, but marshalled the second balls well and made a tremendously cynical foul on Modric for a booking. Dismal ending as his attempted block deflected the ball past Alisson, then he missed the vital spot-kick.
Thiago Silva, 7. Safe as ever with his playing out of the back and Croatia really played into his strengths by launching crosses from deep and trying to go short in front of the back line, rather than spinning the defenders to run channels.
Danilo, 5. Decent first half in possession where he tucked in a lot, but defensively he struggled against Juranovic right from the first whistle. Didn’t really impact going forward all game and not in place to stop the cross late on for the equaliser once he had switched to right-back.
Casemiro, 7. His usual near-impeccable self with positional work and defensive interventions. At times a little loose in possession but that’s the trade-off for a Brazil midfielder in not having an extra body alongside them.
Lucas Paqueta, 8. Really impressive throughout. First touch and forward-thinking passing was always on point, he linked well to the attacking line and made the assist for the Neymar goal. Defensively though he got through so much work, covering the width of the pitch and blocking off passing lanes.
Raphinha, 5. Never really got into the match and was first off for Tite. A couple of dribbles infield and tracked back well enough when required but not a vintage showing.
Vinicius Jr, 7. Brazil’s spark early on in the game as he weaved through a few challenges, though didn’t really have a clear sight of goal. Should have been given one by Neymar at the end of a one-two which didn’t come, mind. Subbed after the hour mark.
Neymar, 6. Perhaps he wasn’t fully fit; certainly he didn’t look at his most agile and lithe. But more problematic was a series of poor decisions in the final third, most notably that non-return to Vini. Laboured in the dribble and unable to beat his man too often. And then, in extra time, a display of balance, acceleration, control, poise and composure. Goal Brazil, Neymar level with Pele. Didn’t get to take his penalty.
Richarlison, 7. Worked well and made the runs off the ball which were required, but the actual link play wasn’t as good as it had been and not too many openings fell his way.
Subs: Antony 8, Rodrygo 5, Pedro 6, Alex Sandro n/a, Fred n/a