|Rahinha consoles a visibly heartbroken Neymar after Croatia knocked the Samba boys out on penalties. (Photo credit: Sky Sports)|
Friday fixtures in the ongoing FIFA World Cup served premium entertainment as well as a shocking ouster of pre-tournament favorites Brazil as they fell on penalties to Croatia at the Education Stadium in Qatar.
First up was Brazil against Croatia and in an ideal world, a plane must have parked at the Croatian hotel to fly them back home in anticipation of a loss to the Brazilians but the gods of soccer struck again with their devilish wand.
Brazil dominated the entire encounter but in a way they weren’t assured; they combined beautifully well but made wrong decisions at pivotal moments; credits must go to the Croatians for their game management and one must ask, how is Luka Modric this efficient at 38?
If no one saw a goalless ninety minutes coming, who would have thought Brazil would score in extra time and still concede before the end of the one hundred and twenty minutes? Game management from the Brazilians was poor and they paid dearly.
Croatia went on to win on penalties as Rodrigo and Marquinhos missed theirs; Croatian goalkeeper Dominik Livanovic remains the hero again and Neymar, the rest of the players and all Brazilians would wish they defended better.
In the other game of the night, the other remaining South American side and the new tournament favorites, Argentina turned a seemingly easy night into a hellish one after they surrendered a two goal lead late on in the game.
Wout Weghorst scored twice, the second coming in the last minute of added time to force extra time after Nahuel Molina and you know who, Lionel Messi gave them a two-goal advantage. It was a match the referee struggled to control as both sides lost discipline and broke the World Cup booking records.
It went into penalties after both sides couldn’t break the deadlock in extra time; they both played for it and only cared about stopping the other from nearing their respective boxes; it was down to precision and timing, there would always be only one winner.
Confidence is immense and it paid off for Emiliano Martinez as the Aston Villa goalkeeper saved the first two Dutch penalties to help the Albiceleste through to the semifinals where they will play Croatia on Tuesday to fight out a place in the final.