Croatia defeated Japan in quarterfinal
Croatia made it to the World Cup quarterfinals after winning an extra-penalty shootout against Japan on Monday, following an intense 1-1 draw in regulation time.
Daizen Maeda handed Japan an early lead in the Al Janoub Stadium just before half-time after he struck after a free-kick that was sunk deep into the opposition’s penalty box.
Croatia came back with an incredible goal by Ivan Perisic in 55 minutes to create a tension-filled final 30 minutes. Still, neither side was able to find an equalizer within 90 minutes or even in extra time.
Croatia goalkeeper Dominic Kivakovic saved penalties from Takumi Minamino, Kaoru Mitoma, and Maya Yoshida before Mario Pasalic scored to claim the 3-1 victory on penalties. The team will move on into the quarterfinals and play Brazil or South Korea, who will play later on Monday.
For Japan, the last 16 was pain four times in a row following losing against Turkey in 2002. They were eliminated in penalties in the match against Paraguay in 2010 and gave a 2-0 lead in the final minute to concede a stoppage-time strike against Belgium four years ago.
It was far more fluid than anyone could anticipate. The game was more open than anyone expected, with Croatia increasing their intensity to slowly take control of midfield while Japan was trying to take advantage of them with the ball on the break.
Perisic was sent through within the eighth minute, but Gonda did not allow his attempt, and Bruno Petkovic also had a one-on-one match, only to smack the ball tamely into the Japanese goalkeeper’s legs.
Japan had a greater sense of adventure than they did in the opening part of their group match on the group stage. Shogo Taniguchi, Daichi Kamada, and Maeda all had opportunities to score, but Maeda ended the tie in the 43rd minute.
Ritsu Doan picked up the ball off a small corner and rolled it into the penalty box. Bruno Petkovic deflected it back into the six-yard box with the utmost attention of Yoshida, and Maeda took advantage to put it into the goal.
The equalizer was scored 12 minutes later when Perisic scored an identical cross from the side. Dejan Lovren lofted a gorgeous ball into the box before Perisic advanced his goalkeeper to strike the ball into the corner of the right bottom in Gonda’s goal.
This caused Japan to the surface, and Wataru Endo began firing in a long-range attack that Livakovic put across the barre.
The extra time was less brisk, but the thrilling running and piledriver shot by Japan replacement Kaoru Mitoma resulted in a superb goalkeeper out of Livakovic before the end.
Japan maintained their composure throughout the game but fell short in the penalty shootout. Nikola Vlasic and Marcelo Brozovic placed Croatia in front 2-1 before Pasalic secured the win for Croatia.