Qatar 2022 World Cup: Croatia break Japan’s heart, meet Brazil in Friday’s quarterfinal
Croatia’s goalkeeper, Dominik Livakovic, was the hero yesterday at the Al Janoub Stadium, Al Wakrah, as he saved three penalties to help the 2018 finalists defeat Japan via a shoot out to reach the quarterfinals in the ongoing Qatar 2022 World Cup.
The game had ended 1-1, and the win ensured that Croatia took their record in World Cup penalty shootouts to 3/3. They beat both Denmark and Russia in 2018 in the last 16 and quarterfinals.
Japan’s is 0/2, as they also lost to Paraguay in 2010.
Kivakovic saved penalties from Takumi Minamino, Kaoru Mitoma and Maya Yoshida before Mario Pasalic netted the winning spot-kick in their 3-1 shootout win over Japan.
With the scores deadlocked at 1-1 after an absorbing 90 minutes, Japan’s Kaoru Mitoma went closest in the scrappy half-hour of extra time, forcing Kivakovic to parry away his powerful drive.
Daichi Kamada had shot off target after a flowing Japan counter-attack minutes before Daizen Maeda deservedly put them ahead in the 43rd minute, firing home from close range after Ritsu Doan delivered an in-swinging cross into the penalty area.
Daizen Maeda had put Japan in front in the first-half, before Ivan Perisic equalised to send the match to an extra 30 minutes, where neither side could then find a winner.
Croatia, beaten finalists in Russia four years ago, will face either Brazil in the last-eight, while Japan’s wait for a first World Cup quarterfinal appearance goes on.
Japan were much the better side in the first-half, Croatia struggling to cope with their energy, and got their reward two minutes before the break. A well-worked corner fell for Maeda in the six-yard box and he fired it home as Japan scored the opening goal for the first time in the tournament.
The experience of Croatia gradually began to show in the second period, and they drew level when Dejan Lovren whipped in a superb cross and Perisic produced an equally impressive header that was powered into the bottom corner.