After a thrilling 120-minute match ended 1-1 on Monday, the match went to a penalty shootout. Croatia won 3-1 thanks to goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic’s three penalty saves. Livakovic made saves on Takumi Minamino, Kaoru Mitsuya, and Maya Yoshida. Then Mario Pasalic calmly sent Japan goalkeeper Shuichi Gonda the wrong way, setting up a quarterfinal matchup for Croatia either Brazil or South Korea on Friday.
Resilient Croatia wins the shootout but Japan loses
In Russia four years ago, the Croatians came from behind three times in the knockout rounds to advance after extra time before losing in the final to France. They showed great patience and determination once again by coming back from a goal deficit to beat a spirited Japan squad that had already eliminated Germany and Spain from the tournament. Daizen Maeda put Japan ahead in the 43rd minute. Ivan Perisic tied it up 10 minutes into the second half, but neither team could pull away from the other.
For Japan, this is the fourth time they’ve experienced heartbreak in the round of 16, following defeats to Turkey in 2002 and Paraguay on penalties in 2010, and a late goal against Belgium in 2014. Croatia ramped up the physicality to slowly take control of midfield, while Japan tried to hit them on the break. This resulted in a more open game than anyone could have predicted.
In the ninth minute, Perisic was placed through on goal, but Gonda blocked his shot. Bruno Petkovic also had a one-on-one opportunity. He wasted it by tapping a weak pass through the Japanese goalkeeper’s legs. Shogo Taniguchi, Daichi Kamada, and Maeda all had chances to score for Japan before Maeda finally broke the deadlock in the 43rd minute, showing much more daring than they did in the opening halves of their group matches.