Croatia has knocked tournament favourites Brazil out of the World Cup, beating the five-time champions 4-2 in a penalty shootout in the quarterfinals after the score was even after 120 minutes.
The 2018 runners-up came through their second consecutive shootout after beating Japan also on penalties in the last 16 and will now face either the Netherlands or Argentina who play each other later.
In an evening filled with tension and drama, Brazil superstar Neymar thought he had won the game when he rifled in an extra-time goal for the five-time world champions.
But instead of protecting their lead they went in search of a second and were punished when Croatia substitute Bruno Petkovic drilled in a left-footed equaliser three minutes from the end of extra-time, breaking Brazilian hearts.
Through a tense opening half at the Education City Stadium on Friday, there was nothing to separate tournament favourites Brazil and Croatia, with both sides enjoying half chances in a free-flowing game, but nothing clear-cut.
If anything, Croatia enjoyed the best chance of the half, when, after 13 minutes, Ivan Perisic could only miss-cue a whipped Mario Pasalic cross past Alisson’s goalpost.
The Brazilians, who have now lost four of their last five World Cup quarter-finals – all to European opposition, enjoyed a much better start to the second half and came close again in the 66th when Lucas Paqueta was denied by Livakovic.
Claims for a handball by defender Josip Juranovic were shot down following a VAR review before Neymar was sent through by Richarlison in the 55th minute only to have his close-range effort blocked by Livakovic.
The Croatia keeper was kept busy and stopped Neymar again in the 76th minute, and by that time had more saves in the match, seven, than his Brazil counterpart, Alisson, had in the entire tournament, five.
Livakovic parried another Paqueta shot five minutes later as the few hundred Brazil fans in the stands grew louder and more impatient and the game trickled over to extra time with Brazil coach Tite visibly nervous.
After a scoreless 90 minutes, Brazil took a 1-0 lead with a bit of extra time solo magic from Neymar.
He launched an attack outside the box, played two consecutive one-twos to bamboozle the tired Croatian defence and then rounded the keeper to equal Brazil great Pele’s record of 77 international goals as Brazil’s all-time leading scorer.
But gritty Croatia refused to quit, and equalised when Bruno Petkovic scored in the 117th.
They then came out on top in the shootout with Livakovic saving Rodrygo’s spot kick and Marquinos hitting the post, leaving Neymar and his teammates in tears.
Nikola Vlasic, Lovro Majer, Luka Modric and Mislav Orsic converted all four penalties taken by Croatia, who are dreaming of their first world title.
They will next face either Argentina or the Netherlands who play later tonight.