World Cup 2022 in review: Day 18 - Croatia stun Brazil and Argentina squeak through after remarkable Netherlands comeback

A daily report from the 2022 World Cup in Qatar - reviewing the best goals, saves, quotes and moments of magic from the day’s matches.

By Alex Bowmer Published: 10 December 2022 - 3.13am
Emiliano Martinez celebrates with Lionel Messi after Argentina's win over the Netherlands

Croatia equalised in extra time on the 116th minute against Brazil and then knocked out the five-time winners on penalties, with Zlatko Dalic's men now set up to meet Argentina, who led 2-0 before remarkably throwing away that advantage late in normal time and then also edging through on spot-kicks on a night of extraordinary drama. 

Here's how both games unfolded...

The day’s results

Croatia 1-1 Brazil (AET, 4-2 on pens)

Netherlands 2-2 Argentina (AET, 3-4 on pens)

Match summaries

Croatia 1-1 Brazil (AET, 4-2 on pens)

Marquinhos' penalty against the post saw Brazil crash out at the quarter-finals as Croatia again came from behind to force spot-kicks and sensationally squeak through. 

The Selecao ran riot against South Korea in their last-16 outing, leading 2-0 inside 13 minutes on that occasion, but Zlatko Dalic's men were a different kettle of fish. 

Despite the five-time winners coming into the game as heavy favourites and shading possession in the first half, they were met by a defensively organised opponent marshalled by Josko Gvardiol and an inspired Dominik Livakovic, who saved three penalties in the previous round's shootout against Japan and made several important stops to keep his side in this contest, twice denying Neymar and Lucas Paqueta in normal time. 

Croatia's best chances of note came through Ivan Perisic, but the Tottenham Hotspur man didn't quite have his shooting boots on as right-back Josip Juranovic put in an impressive display at both ends of the field.

In extra time, Marcelo Brozovic blazed over from Bruno Petkovic's square pass, but it had been Brazil applying much of the pressure since the start of the second half in normal time, which meant it was no surprise when Neymar broke the deadlock in stylish fashion midway through the additional 30 minutes, fittingly equalling Pele's national men's record of 77 goals in the process. 

The No 10 produced a neat give-and-go with Rodrygo before zipping the ball into Paqueta, whose pass round the corner allowed the Paris Saint-Germain star to muscle ahead of Sosa, nip around Livakovic and fire emphatically into the roof of the net as Sosa slid in vain on the line. 

Croatia had to pick themselves up and Dalic threw on Mislav Orsic and he and Dinamo Zagreb team-mate Petkovic combined almost immediately for a dramatic equaliser as Nikola Vlasic fed Orsic, who sped down the left and squared for Petkovic to beat Alisson from the edge of the box for his first international goal in more than two years - and Croatia's first shot on target in the match - with the aid of a big deflection off Marquinhos. 

Brazil went in search of the winner for the second time, but Casemiro was kept out by Livakovic and so the excruciating tiebreaker of penalties ensued. 

Croatia were victorious in two shootouts in Russia four years ago and Vlasic put them ahead here from 12 yards before Livakovic again excelled himself, leaping to his left to keep out Rodrygo. 

Lovro Majer opted to go down the middle like the Croat taker before him, with Casemiro getting Brazil on the board despite Livakovic getting something on it. 

Modric, Pedro and Orsic also converted, with Marquinhos needing to beat Livakovic to give Neymar a chance of keeping his country in the contest. 

The centre-back stepped up and, although he send the goalkeeper the wrong way, his kick, unlike Orsic's just before that, couldn't find the inside sidenetting and instead cannoned off Livakovic's right-hand post to spark ecstasy and despair in equal measure at Education City Stadium. 

Croatia players celebrate and Marquinhos is dejected after his missed penalty
Croatia players celebrate reaching a successive World Cup semi-finals while Marquinhos can't believe what has happened

Netherlands 2-2 Argentina (AET, 3-4 on pens)

It was a tale of two Martinezes as Emiliano saved two penalties in the shootout and Lautaro scored the winning spot-kick - after the Netherlands had spectacularly come from 2-0 down late in normal time in a game featuring 15 yellow cards, a World Cup record.

The first half's one moment of outstanding quality came when Nicolas Otamendi intercepted a Memphis Depay punt upfield and found Nahuel Molina, who drove forward and past Blind before feeding Lionel Messi.

The 35-year-old weaved away from Frenkie de Jong and Nathan Ake and threaded a gorgeous reverse pass to Molina as the Udinese right-back shrugged off Daley Blind and Virgil van Dijk, shifting the ball from his left foot to his right before prodding home. 

The Dutch were struggling to get their key attacking talents into the game often enough and weren't passing with any real zip as Lionel Scaloni's side looked the more likely to get the next goal.

This duly arrived when Denzel Dumfries brought down Marcos Acuna in the box and Messi left Andries Noppert rooted to the spot to make it 10 goals for his country at the World Cup, equalling Gabriel Batistuta's national record. 

However, the game was soon about to turn in an astonishing way. 

First, recent substitute Wout Weghorst glanced in a header to halve the deficit, and, after Steven Berghuis had slammed into the sidenetting, Weghorst equalised in the 11th minute of second-half stoppage time, firing in after Teun Koopmeiners' ingenious pass from a free-kick that tricked the Argentinian wall, who all jumped. 

The Dutch couldn't take their momentum into extra time however, with Noppert's goal under siege in the closing moments as the 6'8'' goalkeeper had to scramble to keep out effort from both Lautaro Martinez and Angel Di Maria, the latter from a corner, while Lautaro Martinez also crashed a shot against his right-hand post. 

To penalties then, and it was Emiliano Martinez who leapt superbly to repel Virgil van Dijk and Berghuis, although Enzo Fernandez's horrible miss meant Argentina's fifth taker, Lautaro Martinez, still had to step up. He did though, and with some aplomb. 

Lautaro Martinez's scores Argentina's winning penalty in the shootout
Lautaro Martinez kept his cool to score Argentina's winning penalty and set up a meeting with Croatia in the semi-finals

Goal of the day

Wout Weghorst - Netherlands (his second)

Substitute Weghorst's equaliser in the 11th minute of second-half stoppage time in normal time owed much to Teun Koopmeiners, who instead of going for goal with his free-kick opted brilliantly to thread in the 30-year-old in a crowded penalty area, leaving the Argentina wall, who all jumped, off balance.

Weghorst still had a bit to do, but he took a touch, held off Enzo Fernandez and fired home to force extra time, not long after his first of the game, which came hot on the heels of his introduction when Louis van Gaal's men were 2-0 down. 

Save of the day

Emiliano Martinez - Argentina

While Dominik Livakovic made some smart stops for Croatia against Brazil, Emiliano Martinez's athleticism to claw away Virgil van Dijk's penalty in the shootout was phenomenal. 

He repeated the trick from Steven Berghuis on the next spot-kick, although that strike was more central. 

Emiliano Martinez saves Virgil van Dijk's penalty in the shootout
Emiliano Martinez gave his team the ideal start in the penalty shootout with this full-stretch save from Virgil van Dijk

Player of the day

Emiliano Martinez - Argentina

Again, a tough choice between Martinez and Dominik Livakovic, but the Aston Villa goalkeeper gets it after making two full-stretch superb saves to put Argentina well in the driving seat in the shootout. 

He couldn't have done anything about either of Wout Weghorst's goals and other than those two moments, he wasn't severely tested during the entire 120+ minutes before excelling from 12 yards. Lionel Messi and Weghorst also get honourable mentions for their contributions to a mad game. 

Magic moments

  • Emiliano Martinez's spot-kick heroics mean that Argentina have won more World Cup penalty shootouts than any other nation (five). Steel.
  • Goncalo Ramos scored a hat-trick on his first World Cup start - the first player to do that since Miroslav Klose. 
Lionel Messi assists Nahuel Molina for Argentina's first goal against the Netherlands
Lionel Messi has now created more chances at the men's World Cup than any other player since records began in 1966

Quote of the day

Gary Lineker ends the BBC coverage of Netherlands vs Argentina with a classic one-liner:

"Give Martinez an Emi!"

Image of the day

Argentina players taunt their Netherlands counterparts after winning the penalty shootout
Argentina players - led by Nicolas Otamendi (No 19) - taunt their Netherlands counterparts after winning on penalties

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Upcoming fixtures

Saturday 10 December: 

Round of 16

Morocco vs Portugal - 3pm KO

England vs France - 7pm KO