Croatia coach pledges ‘this is not the end’

Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic pledged "this is not the end" after his team sensationally dumped Brazil out of the FIFA World Cup 2022 on penalties at the quarter-final stage on Friday. The match finished 1-1 after extra time, with Bruno Petkovic cancelling out Neymar's brilliant solo opener in the dying minutes. Croatia, finalists at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, won the shootout 4-2. Marquinhos missed the crucial spot-kick, hitting the post when he had to score to keep Brazil in it after Rodrygo's earlier attempt had been saved by goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic. Croatia converted all four of their penalties. "This is a victory for Croatian people," said Dalic. "A great match. We eliminated the main favourites. This is Croatia – pride, courage, faith and patriotism." He said his team had risen to the challenge when under the most intense pressure. "Croatia is the best when it's needed. When it matters, Croatia always succeeds. No one should underestimate us. "This is not the end, we are moving on. We can achieve a lot." Croatia will face Argentina in the semi-finals. On Saturday they will start preparing for that challenge, but, for now Croatia can celebrate what Dalic heralded as one of the country's best-ever victories. "This is one of our greatest wins – it was a great performance from us tactically," he said at his post-match press conference. "They (the players) are great fighters and only Croats can do that," he added. Croatia have won all four penalty shootouts in their history at the World Cup – two in 2018, against Denmark and Russia, and two in Qatar, against Japan and now Brazil. "We have very strong character and we do not give up, we were prepared for anything today," said Dalic. "It has become quite normal for us in shootouts to become favourite, it's as though we have already won at that point, but you need to get to the penalties first. It's a feature of our team."

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