Al-Rayyan, Qatar – After Croatia defeated Brazil on penalties and secured a place in the semifinals, Kockasti fans left Education City Stadium elated and surprised by the “nail-biting” match.
“I was on the edge of my seat the whole time. This is an amazing feeling … to win when you were sure you were going to lose,” a 21-year-old David Smolgol told Al Jazeera on Friday.
“We are very small country, but God keeps helping us win. That must be it,” he said while raising his hands up to the sky.
Brazil looked set to win the highly charged contest after Neymar scored in the first half of extra time, sending the Brazilians into jubilation mode. However, Croatia, losing finalists in Russia 2018, scored in the dying minutes of the second half through striker Bruno Petkovic to send the game to penalties – with Croatia coming out on top 4-2.
Ivona Babic, another Croatian fan, described her team’s win as “unbelievable”.
“I was so sure we were going to lose after Neymar’s goal … I had given up all hope … but now we are going to the semifinals!” the Zagreb resident said.
“My heart needs a moment to calm down,” the 28-year-old from Zagreb told Al Jazeera.
At the final whistle the Croatia fans, who were overwhelmingly in the minority, took the celebrations outside where they chanted, “Bring back Brazil, so we can play.”
However, the Brazil fans were stunned by the loss. Tears streamed down some of their faces, including women and children, as others tried to console them, and each other.
Davide Gomes, 35-year-old salesperson from Rio De Janeiro, said it was an “awful” feeling to lose on penalties.
“Penalties are very painful. We were the better team, but what can you do, those are the rules of the game,” Soares, who lives Rio De Janeiro, told Al Jazeera. “I don’t think most Brazilians will be able to sleep tonight. It hurts a lot,” he added.
While there were not as many fans in Qatar, Croatians back home would surely be celebrating.
Mia Dopiec told Al Jazeera it will be a “very long night of drinking” back in the Croatian capital Zagreb where she lives.
“I am already getting messages from friends saying how lucky I am to be at the match today, and all the plans people are making to party,” the 21-year-old university student said.
On the prospects of facing Argentina or Netherlands in the semifinal, Dopiec simply said: “We are not afraid of anyone. We beat Brazil … they [Argentina and Netherlands] too can be defeated.”
Croatia will be playing in their second straight semi-final on December 13 at Lusail Stadium.