Brazil and Croatia both faced their toughest test in the ongoing 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar as 120 minutes was not enough to separate both teams.
This was the eight time in Brazil's illustrious history at the tournament that they were forced into extra time. Croatia, on the other hand, have only been to the quarter finals three times in their history and were playing in their seventh extra time in the tournament.
The Europeans held their own as underdogs in the tie, but eventually, Brazil's quality shone through and they got the goal late in the first half of extra time through Neymar's brilliance. It was the Paris Saint-Germain forward's third goal of the tournament after missing the last two group games through injury.
This is set to be Neymar's last World Cup if his words back in 2021 are to be taken seriously. His injury looked like it would ruin the dream but he has braved it to show why he is rated as Brazil's best football talent since 'el fenomeno' Ronaldo.
Brazil, however, were unable to hold on to the lead as the Croatians, who had earned a reputation for their late goals and comebacks in the tournament, struck three minutes from the end of extra time to force penalties.
And Croatia prevailed, scoring four penalties to Brazil's two to book their slot in the semi finals for the second time in a row.
Highly entertaining game sees 2018 runners-up come out on top
From the first minute of the game until the end of extra time, it was end to end action. Brazil attacked more frequently as expected and came close on many occasions but resolute defending from Croatia meant that all their efforts would not yield any results.
Dominik Livaković got busy as early as the 3rd minute, saving easily from Vinicius Jnr. The 27-year-old made a more decisive save in the 20th minute after a well worked Brazil attack fell to Neymar whose shot was dealt with relatively easily by the Dinamo Zagreb goalkeeper. Croatia attempted a few attacks of their own but they ended up being overshadowed by Brazil's defenders, leaving Alison Becker with little to do in the half.
The second half saw more of the same: Brazil on the front foot with Croatia forced to defend most of the time. However, if the match was to be won by midfield efforts, the 2018 runners-up would take all the points. This forced extra time and Brazil, who were already running on fumes at the time, had to readjust their game.
Neymar would send the stadium into a frenzy in the 105th minute when he finished a move he started from deep. It looked like Brazil was on their way to another semi-final but Croatia had other plans.
Captain Luka Modric was the orchestrator. After great work to win the ball back, he swung in a perfect cross for Bruno Petkovic to finish.
Penalties went as many expected, with Livaković saving Brazil's first penalty from Rodrygo and the inside of the post preventing Marquinhos from giving Brazil a lifeline.
Croatia will now wait to face Argentina or the Netherlands in the semi final as they work their way to their first World Cup