Brazil needed something special to get past a determined Croatian side in the World Cup quarterfinal, and it seemed they got it through a special extra-time goal from Neymar.
But, incredibly, it wasn’t enough.
Neymar weaved through Croatia’s back line with the help of two perfectly weighted one-twos — first from Rodrygo and then from Lucas Paquetá — evaded a challenge and then goalkeeper Dominik Livaković before finishing an all-timer of a World Cup goal in the 106th minute.
As if the goal wasn’t big enough, it also tied Neymar with the biggest legend of them all, Pelé, for the all-time Brazil men’s national team scoring record with his 77th goal for Brazil.
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It looked for all the world as if that would be the goal that sent Brazil to the semifinal, but there was another twist left before extra time finished. Croatia subBruno Petković came through with a stunning 116th-minute equalizer to send the game into penalties.
And in penalties, just as it did in the last 16 against Japan, Croatia prevailed. Livaković made one save and Marquinhos hit the post, while Croatia made all four of its spot kicks.
It meant that, improbably, Neymar’s goal that looked like it would go down in Brazil folklore was instead a footnote on a devastating night.