Japan-Croatia 2-4, Livakovic takes the Croatians to the quarterfinals

The goalkeeper saved three penalties for the Japanese after Maeda and Perisic drew 1-1. Now the winner of Brazil-South Korea

Croatia beat Japan 4-2 on penalties (1-1 in the 90th and 120th minutes) and qualified for the quarter-finals of Qatar 2022, where they will face the winner of Brazil-South Korea. The Japanese come close to another feat after those against Germany and Spain and end the first half ahead thanks to a goal in the scrum by Maeda (43′). The Croatians struggled to create play, but they equalized in the 55th minute thanks to a splendid header from Perisic on Lovren’s assist. Then Livakovic and Gonda save the result from Endo and Modric. Little happens in overtime and goalkeeper Livakovic is decisive in the lottery of penalties who blocks the shots of Minamino, Mitoma and Yoshida. The last penalty is from the Atalantino Pasalic.

Croatia once again proves to be relentless at the World Cup from the penalty spot: after eliminating Denmark and Russia in 2018, this time it’s Japan’s turn, which for a while caresses yet another feat but has to give up in front of Livakovic and precision of the Croatians. There is also a bit of Italy in the success of Dalic’s national team, given that Vlasic, Brozovic and Pasalic were flawless from 11 metres. Moriyasu’s team plays well for a while, but then slows down and this favors the opponents. Without a forward of great thickness (both Petkovic and Budimir are bad), the former Inter Perisic will take care of restoring balance to a match that seemed to slip away. The lottery of penalties is the right epilogue: the Japanese get almost everything wrong, Croatia doesn’t and can celebrate.

Moriyasu must give up the disqualified Itakura: in his place the former Bologna Tomiyasu. In midfield Endo is preferred to Tanaka, the author of the qualifying goal against Spain, while in attack there is the other hero of the match against the Red Furies, Doan, who steals the place from Kubo. Two changes for Dalic compared to Belgium: Barisic is at left-back in place of the bruised Sosa, while in attack Petkovic wins the ballot with Livaja at the center of the attack. Japan got off to a strong start right away and in the 3′ Taniguchi headed just short of the target. 5′ go by and the Japanese risk hurting themselves: Tomiyasu’s mistake, Perisic takes aim but Gonda blocks, then Petkovic doesn’t find the winning paw. Ito, one of the most active, puts in a low cross on which Maeda slips by just missing the winning impact. Croatia struggled to get the ball moving quickly and Kramaric and Petkovic were out of the game. In the 28th minute Perisic headed a cross from Barisic at the far post, but Kramaric didn’t get there. The time finale is of the Japanese brand: first Kamada concludes a good choral action very badly, then in the 43rd minute the game unlocks, with Maeda who solves the scrum by slipping in behind Livakovic. The involuntary assist is from Petkovic.

The two teams restart with the same 22 points as in the first half. After a slightly high right-footed shot by Kamada, Croatia equalized thanks to Perisic, who with a nice header put them in the corner where Gonda couldn’t reach (55′). Lovren and his companions needed an episode, given the paucity of the maneuver. Japan immediately tries to shake up and in the 57th minute Endo commits Livakovic from the edge who lifts over the crossbar. Croatia doesn’t turn around also because Modric doesn’t play Modric: the only acute of his 90′ is a shot from outside that Gonda sends for a corner (63′). Moriyasu tries to shuffle the cards using the bench, but his sons are no longer able to be dangerous. Thus the finish is all Croatian, but Perisic’s left foot is deflected with his toe by Tomiyasu (77′) and Pasalic’s header misses the target (86′). Thus, we rightly go into extra time.

The first extra-time runs off without particular emotions, apart from a great shot by central Mitoma and rejected by the Croatian goalkeeper (104′). A few minutes earlier, Dalic had removed captain Modric and Kovacic from the field to make way for Majer and the Turin player Vlasic. Identical script in the second overtime, but this time it’s Majer who has the 1-0 ball on his foot at the last second but shoots wide. It goes to penalties and here goalkeeper Livakovic takes the chair: the Dinamo Zagreb goalkeeper saves shots from Minamino, Mitoma and Yoshida, Croatia misses only one with Livaja (post), but Vlasic, Brozovic and Pasalic are snipers and they send Japan home.


Japan (3-4-3): Gonda 7, Tomiyasu 5.5, Yoshida 5, Taniguchi 6; J. Ito 6, Endo 6.5, Morita 6 (1′ 2°ts Tanaka 6), Nagatomo 5.5 (19′ ts Mitoma 6); Doan 5.5 (42′ st Minamino 5), Maeda 6.5 (19′ st Asano 5.5), Kamada 6 (30′ st Sakai 6). Available: Kawashima, Schhmidt, Yamane, Shibasaki, Machino Ueda, Soma, H. Ito. all.: Moriyasu 6
Croatia (4-3-3): Livakovic 8.5; Juranovic 6, Lovren 6.5, Gvardiol 6, Barisic 6; Modric 5.5 (9′ 1st Majer 6), Brozovic 5.5, Kovacic 5.5 (9′ 1st Vlasic 6); Kramaric 5 (23′ st Pasalic 6,5), Petkovic 4,5 (17′ st Budimir 5 – 1′ 2nd ts Livaja 5), ​​Perisic 7 (1′ 2nd ts Orsic 6). Available: Grbic, Ivusic, Erlic, Vida, Sutalo, Susic, Jakic. all.: Dalic 6.5
Referee: Elfath (USA)
Markers: 43′ Maeda (G), 10′ st Perisic (C)
Ammonite yourself: Kovacic (C), Barisic (C)
Penalties: Minamino (G) saved, Vlasic (C) goal, Mitoma (G) saved, Brozovic (C) goal, Asano (G) goal, Livaja (C) post, Yoshida (G) saved, Pasalic (C) goal
Note: Recover 2′ + 4′ + 2′ + 1′

Croatia has always qualified in the three World Cup games that ended on penalties: three out of three including today’s one (only Germany, 4 out of 4, has done better in history among those with 100% wins on penalties).
Croatia qualified for the quarter-finals of the World Cup for the third time in their history, after 1998 and 2018.
Seven of the last eight knockout matches of major international tournaments (European or World Cup) involving Croatia have gone to extra time, with the exception of the 2018 World Cup final against France.
Ivan Perisic has been actively involved in ten goals in 14 World Cup matches: since Perisic’s debut in this competition in 2014, only Lionel Messi (12 – eight goals, four assists) and Kylian Mbappé (11 – nine goals, two assists) have been involved in more goals.
Perisic is one of four players (along with Messi, Ronaldo and Shaqiri) capable of scoring at least once in each of the last three World Cups (2014, 2018, 2022).
Only Davor Šuker (45) has scored more goals in all competitions for Croatia than Ivan Perišić (33), who is level with Mario Mandžukić.
Since Ivan Perisic’s debut at Euro 2012, only Cristiano Ronaldo (21) has scored more goals than the Croatian (17 – 10 goals, 7 assists) among European players in major international tournaments.
This goal by Maeda is Japan’s first shot on target in the first half at the 2022 World Cup.
Luka Modric’s debut match at the World Cup was against Japan in the 2006 tournament (group stage, matchday 2). Modric is the only player to play both of these two games, tonight and in 2006.
From today against Croatia, Yuto Nagatomo (15) becomes the 2nd Asian player with the most appearances at the World Cup, behind only the South Korean Myung-Bo Hong (16).

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About David Martin

David Martin is the lead editor for Spark Chronicles. David has been working as a freelance journalist.

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