Tournament favourites Brazil were knocked out of the World Cup on penalties as Croatia kept their nerve to edge through to the semi-finals.
Croatia, beaten finalists four years ago, scored with all four of their spot-kicks as Rodrygo – taking his team’s first kick – was denied by the brilliant Dominik Livakovic and Marquinhos’ crucial fourth effort struck the post.
As the ball hit the foot of the woodwork and bounced away, Croatia’s team sprinted to celebrate with their goalkeeper, while the Brazil players hit the turf, knowing their dream of a sixth crown had come to an end.
Meanwhile, Messi looked to have inspired Argentina into a last-four meeting with Croatia when he set up Nahuel Molina’s opener 10 minutes before the break and then added the second from the penalty spot.
Louis van Gaal, in his final game as Dutch coach, went for broke and it paid off as substitute Wout Weghorst led a sensational comeback by scoring twice.
A game of many flashpoints and more than a dozen yellow cards went to penalties, during which Aston Villa’s Argentina keeper Emi Martinez emerged as the hero, saving from Virgil van Dijk and Steven Berghuis.
However, Brazil’s Manager, Tite says he “goes in peace” in confirming he is stepping down as head coach after Croatia knocked them out of the World Cup.
Tite, 61, said before the tournament that he would stand down regardless of how his side did.
“It is a painful defeat, but it is the end of a cycle,” said the Brazil boss.
“I already said that a year and a half ago. I didn’t come here to win and then turn around and say I was going to stay. People who know me know that.”
Tite took on the role in 2016 and won the Copa America in 2019, but was unable to guide Brazil past the last-eight stage in two World Cups, with Brazil losing to Belgium in the quarter-finals at Russia 2018.
Asked whether he had left a legacy, he said: “Time will answer that. I am not in a position now to evaluate all the work we have done, but as time goes by, you will be able to make that assessment.
“I don’t have the capacity to do that now after we have been eliminated.”