Former England striker Alan Shearer believes Neymar Jr. should’ve taken Brazil’s first penalty in their FIFA World Cup shootout against Croatia like Lionel Messi did against the Netherlands.
Brazil exited the 2022 World Cup on Friday (December 9) after falling to Croatia in the quarterfinals. The two teams scored once apiece in extra-time after regulation ended goalless before squaring off in a penalty shootout.
Neymar, who was seemingly the Selecao‘s fifth taker, didn’t get to go to the spot at all as two of his teammates missed, while Croatia scored all four of their kicks.
Hours later, Brazil’s arch-rivals Argentina made it into the FIFA World Cup semifinals with a similar shootout win against the Netherlands. The two teams drew 2-2 after extra-time, forcing the second penalty shootout of the night.
Lionel Messi stepped up and scored the first spot-kick for La Albiceleste after Emiliano Martinez saved Virgil van Dijk’s opening attempt for the Dutch. The South Americans went on to win the shootout 4-3.
Shearer, who was on punditry duty for the BBC, said after Argentina’s win (as quoted by the Daily Mail):
“This for me is key in a penalty shoot-out, what Argentina did and Brazil didn’t: Having your best penalty go early, just to set the tone. It’s a mind game when you’ve taken a penalty in the game and then you take one in the shoot-out. I had it against Argentina in 1998.”
Alan Shearer issues a dig at Brazil and Neymar, as he praises Argentina for sending Lionel Messi up first to take a penalty.
The Premier League’s all-time top-scorer went on to praise Messi, who assisted his side’s opener before scoring their second against the Netherlands:
“Its incredible the way he travels with the ball, and to have the ability to spot that pass and the run, and the weight of pass. The first touch and the finish from Nahuel Molina were also exceptional. It’s a fantastic goal.”
Lionel Messi and Neymar Jr. endured contrasting individual nights in the 2022 FIFA World Cup on Friday
Prior to the tournament, several fans predicted one of the 2022 FIFA World Cup semifinals to be between Brazil and Argentina. While La Albiceleste just about made it through, they will take on Croatia and not the Selecao in the last four.
Most eyes were undeniably on Neymar Jr. and Lionel Messi during their respective clashes.
Neymar, who scored Brazil’s only goal against Croatia, didn’t have his greatest game. He completed only 78% of his passes, missed two big chances and often struggled to find space due to a dynamic opposition midfield, losing the ball 26 times.
However, he also won four fouls, laid out a key pass and created a moment of magic to score his first goal from open play at the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Messi, meanwhile, got a goal and an assist against the Netherlands, creating one big chance and laying out three key passes. He won eight fouls and completed 82% of his passes.
Lionel Messi v Netherlands:
6 shots/2 on target (1.01 total xG)
3 key passes
2/3 successful dribbles
🤺 10/14 ground duels won
9.1 Sofascore rating
Our Player of the Match!
#NEDARG #Qatar2022 #FIFAWorldCup
Most importantly, Lionel Messi scored in the shootout to help seal Argentina’s last-four berth.
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