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SPORTS UPDATE

‘Time to pick up the pieces’, ‘Goodbye, sixth championship’

After a goalless draw in Qatar, the five-time world champions were beaten on penalties by Croatia, who earned a spot-kick victory for the second game in a row to set up a semi-final with Argentina next week.

Up until that point, Brazil had been favourites to win the tournament outright but on the same night Neymar matched Pele’s all-time record of 77 goals for the country, their dream was shattered when Marquinhos’ win-or-bust penalty smacked against the woodwork and away to safety.

O Globo, one of Brazil’s most-read newspapers, took aim at departing coach Tite with a list of six points they felt he had got wrong and contributed to their exit.

Among their complaints were his substitutions in extra-time, bringing on Fred for Lucas Paqueta and Alex Sandro for Eder Militao, as a contributing factor in Croatia’s equalising goal, as well as the fact Neymar – potentially down as fifth penalty taker never took a spot-kick in the shootout.

“Rodrygo and Marquinhos missed their kicks, Croatia converted all the penalties they took – including their number 10, Luka Modric – and Brazil were eliminated without the player considered their best taker being used,” they wrote.

Another newspaper, Extra, ran with a full-page picture of Brazil’s heartbroken players after their shootout defeat, with the caption “Time to pick up the pieces”. They criticised Neymar’s on-field contribution throughout the game – and said his tournament had been “below expectations”.

O Dia ran with the front page “The ball is over!” while fellow paper Estado De Minas carried a Croatian message, translated into Portuguese below reading “Farewell, sixth championship” accompanied by another photograph of dejected Brazil players following their defeat.

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