Euro 2020 Special

World Cup quarter-finals review: Brazil crash out but Argentina advance

In a night of high quarter-final drama in the 2022 Qatar World Cup, it finished Europe: 1 and South America:1 following two penalty shootouts, which saw the favourites Brazil knocked on but their neighbours and bitter rivals Argentina advance.


European curse strikes again for Brazil

Since Brazil last won the World Cup in 2002, every time they have got to the knockout stages of the tournament, it has been a European team that has stopped them.

Qatar 2022 was supposed to be different. They arrived in the Middle East as the tournament favourites with the deepest squad and with climactic conditions that appeared to suit them.

And their progress through to the last eight had been achieved in some style, even if they did lose what amounted to a dead rubber against Cameroon after largely fielding a second rate team.

Yet, once again they have disappointed their millions of fans with another heartbreaking exit at the hands of the arch pragmatists Croatia.

They had stumbled through qualifying and needed penalties to beat Japan in the round of 16. But they know what it means to play extra-time in a World Cup game, having reached the final four years ago having played 120 minutes in all their knockout matches.

Brazil will reflect that it should never have got to that, having had several gilt-edged chances in regulation time, only for goalkeeper Dominik Livaković – their penalty hero against the Japanese – to thwart them reach time.

Croatia seemed content to play for penalties, but had a huge chance to take an unlikely lead in the first half of extra time when Marcelo Brozović was presented with a clear sight of goal but blazed his effort over.

Two minutes later, Neymar made them pay for that miss with a move that he started and then finished by dribbling past Livaković and firing into the net.


That equalled Pelé’s all-time goalscoring record for Brazil

Brazil celebrated as if that were the winner and it proved to be their undoing. They began to waste time, whilst Croatia – with nothing to lose – pressed forward.  The Croatians had not had a shot on target but substitute Bruno Petković rectified with his shot taking a slight deflection which took it past Allison in the Brazil goal.

That meant penalties, and once again Livaković distinguished himself, facing the first spot-kick he faced from Rodrygo.

Croatia scored all theirs, meaning Marquinhos had to convert his to keep his side in the World Cup. Unfortunately for him, he hit the post and Brazil’s dream was over for another four years.

They became the only team in World Cup history to lose after first taking the lead in extra time. It was the first time in history that Croatia had ever beaten Brazil.


Messi’s date with destiny draws nearer

Lionel Messi appears on a mission to shed his tag as one of the greatest players never to have won the World Cup as he has dragged his Argentina side into the semi-finals despite the shock of losing their opening game to Saudi Arabia.

In a march which featured 17 yellow cards and one red – a World Cup record – he seemed to have done enough to win this match for his country in normal time, providing the first-half pass for Nahuel Molina to fire his side ahead, and then converting a second-half penalty that was needlessly conceded by Denzel Dumfries.

Even when Wout Weghorst pulled a goal back for the Netherlands with a glancing header, it seemed no more than a consolation goal.  But the Dutch began to go more direct and the Argentine defence came under pressure.

In the 112th minute of added time, they won a free-kick on the edge of the box. And although Argentina lined up their wall, they failed to place a man on the ground behind him – the tactic used by many modern teams.

They were made to pay for their oversight, because as the wall jumped up, the free-kick was played under them to Weghorst who turned and shot home the equaliser.

Having won the match once, Argentina needed to do it all over again.

The extra 30 minutes produced no further goals and it meant another penalty shootout.

Emi Martínez had been the Argentina hero when they won the Copa América last year, but he again came up trumps for his team, saving the first two Dutch spot-kicks.

It was left to substitute Lautaro Martínez to apply the coup de grâce from 12 yards to bring a chaotic evening to an end.



Croatia will now play Argentina in the first World Cup semi-final on Tuesday, December 13th.




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