Croatia beat Japan on penalties to reach World Cup quarter-finals

Dominic Kivakovic saved penalties from Takumi Minamino, Kaoru Mitoma and Maya Yoshida before Mario Pasalic netted the winning spot-kick



Croatia's Dominik Livakovic celebrates with Mario Pasalic, Josko Gvardiol, Dejan Lovren and Josip Juranovic after winning the penalty shootout and progressing to the quarter finals. Photo: Reuters
Croatia's Dominik Livakovic celebrates with Mario Pasalic, Josko Gvardiol, Dejan Lovren and Josip Juranovic after winning the penalty shootout and progressing to the quarter finals. Photo: Reuters
by

Leslie Wilson Jr

Published: Mon 5 Dec 2022, 9:42 PM

Last updated: Mon 5 Dec 2022, 10:21 PM

Japan’s dream run at the Fifa World Cup came to a cruel end on Monday when they lost 4-2 via penalties to Croatia at the Al Janoub Stadium (Stadium of the South), in Qatar.

After the match ended 1-1 at the end of regulation time (90 min + 30 extra time), Croatia found more success from the 12-yard spot converting three of their kicks while Japan could only find the target once.

Croatia goalkeeper Dominic Livakovic thwarted tries from Takumi Minamino, Kaoru Mitoma, and Maya Yoshida before Mario Pasalic converted the winning spot-kick for The Checkered Ones. to make it 3-1.

Earlier Japan drew first blood during a tense make-or-break contest when a creamer from Daizen Maeda, who plays for Celtic in the Scottish Premier League, put Japan aheadatq 43 minutes before Croatia levelled through Tottenham Hotspur star Ivan Perisic in the 55th minute.

Japan, trying to reach the World Cup quarter-finals for the first time in their history, was aiming to claim another shock victory after beating 2014 World Cup winners Germany and 2010 champions Spain in the group stage in Qatar.

Croatia, who lost to France in the last World Cup, are now unbeaten in their last 10 matches.

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Currently 12th in the latest FIFA World Rankings, Croatia await the winners of Monday’s late match between five-time champions Brazil and South Korea, whose best performance came in the 2002 edition which they co-hosted with Japan.

After a goalless draw against Morocco in the Group F opener on November 23, Croatia struck a purple patch with a 4-1 victory over Canada. They needed a draw against Belgium in their final Group match to reach the last 16.

Samurai Blue was making a third attempt to reach a first-ever quarter-final appearance having failed in attempts in 2002, 2010, and 2018.


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