Croatia coach Dalic: This is what we did to beat Brazil in World Cup quarterfinal

Croatia’s head coach Zlatko Dalic reacts during their World Cup match. (AP pic)

Croatia head coach Zlatko Dalic praised his players' "strength of character" after they recovered from a goal down to beat Brazil on penalties in their World Cup quarterfinal here on Friday.

Neymar put Brazil ahead with a brilliant run and finish in the 106th minute before substitute Bruno Petkovic equalized when his deflected shot flew in with four minutes of extra time remaining at Education City stadium.

Mislav Orsic, Luka Modric, Lovro Majer and Nikola Vlasic converted each of their spot-kicks for Croatia as Rodrygo saw his attempt saved by Dominik Livakovic and Marquinhos crashed his effort off the post.

"We showed that we have strength of character and that we never give up," Dalic told a news conference. "We were prepared for every outcome and we knew that as the game progressed our chances would improve. We didn't want to concede an early goal."

It was Croatia's second consecutive penalty shootout victory after their round-of-16 duel against Japan on Monday was decided on spot-kicks.

Croatia's players celebrate after the penalty shootout at the World Cup quarterfinal soccer match between Croatia and Brazil, at the Education City Stadium in Al Rayyan, Qatar, Friday, Dec. 9, 2022. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

Dalic's men also won two games at the 2018 World Cup in Russia on penalties en route to reaching the final, in which they lost to France.

"I believe that teams with great character can come back," Dalic said. "In penalty shootouts we believe we are the favorites. It's almost as if our opponents know they are going to lose when the get into a penalty shootout against us because they know how good we are."

He added: "I know people are surprised because I think people didn't expect us to make it this far. Everything we are doing is the result of honest work and professionalism. We have high-quality players and a great atmosphere within the squad. The players trust me and I trust them." ■

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