Dec. 10, 2022


4 min read

Argentina goes through penalties, Croatia oust favourites Brazil

Argentina goes through penalties, Croatia oust favourites Brazil

Brazil's Neymar and Raphinha look dejected after losing the penalty shootout REUTERS/Hannah Mckay

Story highlights

    Distraught Brazil rue what might have been
    Van Gaal hails effort of players and bemoans penalty misses

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LUSAIL, Qatar - Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal hailed the efforts of his squad in fighting back from two goals down to force their World Cup quarter-final against Argentina into a penalty shootout even though their ultimate exit proved to be painful.

The Dutch staged a dramatic comeback with two late goals to level their match 2-2 after the 90 minutes and take the last-eight encounter at the Lusail Stadium into extra time, where the scoreline stayed the same until the final whistle.

But they squandered their first two penalties and went on to lose the shootout 4-3.

“I had asked the players to train penalties at their club and they did that. It was a fantastic achievement to come back from 0-2 down to 2-2 but then to lose on penalties is tough," he said.

“I can’t blame myself, I think, we prepared everything. My players fought to the end and they are dead in the changing room.

“They gave everything and I’m really proud, we didn’t lose in 20 matches,” Van Gaal said of his record in his third spell as Dutch coach after taking over in September last year.

He now leaves at the end of his contract.

“In the shootout we missed the first two penalties and that put pressure on the rest of the penalty takers. It is still a lottery and luckily for them (Argentina) they won,” he added.

The Dutch did not start the game well, the 71-year-old coach admitted. “The problem is we were not able to find free man with the ball. I tried to solve it at halftime and we then changed our tactics three times in the second half.

“We fought unbelievably hard to come back from a 2-0 deficit against a powerful Argentina who can defend very well.”

Van Gaal also felt the Dutch lost initiative in extra time but said this was “logical” due to fatigue.

“In the second half we ran a lot more than Argentina and there were a few players on their last legs. We thought we’d win on penalties because of the training we’ve done.”

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Argentina goes through penalties, Croatia oust favourites Brazil

Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal and Wout Weghorst look dejected after the penalty shootout as Netherlands are eliminated from the World Cup REUTER/Paul Childs

Distraught Brazil rue what might have been


AL RAYYAN, Qatar - Brazil’s team of superstars were left ruing what might have been and flexing every sinew of stoicism on Friday after a heart-breaking World Cup quarter-final loss on penalties to Croatia which left them sobbing on the turf.

Minutes from the semi-finals after Neymar had smashed the ball into the roof of the net at the end of a sublime move in extra-time, they allowed Croatia substitute Bruno Petkovic to fire home to level.

With Croatian keeper Dominik Livakovic rightly named man of the match for a gargantuan performance, penalties were the last thing five-times champions Brazil wanted, and so it proved as Livakovic saved the first penalty -- from Rodrygo -- and Marquinhos slammed a post to seal Brazil’s fate.

“It's difficult. You have to lift your head,” Brazil captain Thiago Silva said. “I'm very proud of the boys and what we've done, but unfortunately, it's part of football. When we lose something important that we had as a goal, it hurts a lot.

"But now it's time to try to lift my head and carry on. There's no other alternative. I'm a guy that every time I fall, I get up.”

Midfielder Casemiro, who scored for the five-times champions in the shootout, said: “We are sad, we are sure that everyone in the group gave their best.

“We were upset by the way it happened. It was in our hands, and it slipped away,” he added, before reflecting philosophically: “Now it's time to keep calm and life must go on.”

With two Brazil penalty misses, Neymar never got to take a spot kick, but coach Tite defended the decision to put Neymar fifth.

“The fifth is the decisive one,” he told reporters. “There is more pressure, and the players who are better prepared should take this one.”

Tite, who had previously said he was stepping down at the end of this tournament, railed at suggestions the Brazilians had been disorganised, telling one reporter: “Disorganised? It is because of you not because of me.

“I do not agree we were disorganized. We put high pressure at the front and tried to retain the game with Pedro.

“I respect the result. These things happen sometimes in football,” he added, before defending his decision to return to the changing room and not stay on the pitch with his distraught players as they cried in the arena.

“When we also won different matches I did not stay on the field of play. Have you seen me celebrating in other instances?

“That’s not my style. The players know how proud I am of their performance.

"Time will tell what my legacy is.”

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