At the Al Janoub Stadium, Croatia defeated Japan 3-1 on penalties to advance to the quarterfinals of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, breaking the hearts of the Samurai Blue, who lost at the Round of 16 stage once more. Croatia’s goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic made three crucial saves to help his country advance.
After defeating Spain and Germany in the group stage, Hajime Moriyasu’s Japan team entered the game feeling confident and was hoping to add a third European opponent to their list of tournament victories.
As Croatia attempted to control the ball, the game got off to a familiar start. Japan, though, were the team who produced the better opportunities and appeared more dangerous moving forward, despite their early lack of possession.
The Samurai Blue eventually had more possession of the ball toward the end of the first half, and they scored the opening goal two minutes before halftime when Daizen Maeda scored after Maya Yoshida was fouled in the six-yard box following Ritsu Doan’s initial cross and beat Croatia goalkeeper Dominic Livakovic.
Ten minutes into the second half, Croatia scored a crucial equaliser completely against the flow of play. Ivan Perisic from within the box headed Dejan Lovren’s deep cross into the far corner to bring Zlatko Dalic’s team back into the game.
Croatia started to get into the game after that and kept improving. Despite the fact that both teams had more opportunities, they were tied after 90 minutes and extra time was necessary for the first time in this event.
In extra time, Kaoru Mitoma had Japan’s finest opportunity in the 104th minute, but Livakovic expertly stopped his strong shot on goal following a brilliant run from within his own half. Penalties were required to choose a winner after extra time ended all even.
For Japan, the shootout was a nightmare as Livakovic in the Croatian goal saved three of their penalty kicks. Croatia advanced to the round of eight after Mario Pasaslic converted the game-winning penalty. On Friday afternoon at the Education City Stadium in Al Rayyan, Croatia will take on either South Korea or Brazil.