It wasn’t supposed to end like this.
Brazil had danced into the quarter-finals of the World Cup but their dreams of a showpiece jig in the final ended in tears at Education City Stadium.
Croatia schooled the Samba stars on penalties to end hopes of a sixth triumph as they were dumped out of the competition by a European nation again.
It looked like Neymar would be the hero when he opened the scoring in extra time to equal Pele’s official scoring record for the men’s national team but – as the unused fifth penalty taker – he left the field in tears after what could be his final World Cup match.
After the game, it was confirmed that boss Tite would be leaving his job, the 61-year-old unable to add to his Copa America triumph in 2019.
“It is indeed very difficult,” he said after the loss. “But it is the end of my cycle with the Brazil squad. I said that one and half years ago.”
South American football expert Tim Vickery said on BBC Radio 5 Live: “This is death in the family.
“That is what it is going to feel like in the next few hours for Brazil fans. Croatia have sent the far bigger nation into mourning. This will really hurt for a long time.
“I hope the population will not turn on them. Brazilian crowds can be vicious. I hope there isn’t a negative backlash because this team doesn’t deserve it.” (BBC)