Croatia thwarts the dream of the giant killer

Croatia thwarts the dream of the giant killer

The goal Livakovic, Balkan hero by saving three penalties in the shootout that classifies the runner-up for the quarterfinals

MADRID, Dec. 5 (.) –

Croatia qualified for the quarterfinals of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, after defeating Japan on penalties (1-3) in the round of 16 match, played at the Al Yanub stadium in Al Wakrah, after the tie (1- 1) that led to extra time and will face the winner of Brazil-South Korea.

Croatia showed their trade in a game in which Japan was better until their strength gave out, and which confirmed that it was no coincidence that they were one step away from making history and emulating the two Asian teams that, to date, are the only ones that have made it to the quarterfinals, the two Koreas, the North in 1966, and the South in 2002.

Hajime Moriyasu used the same plan as against Germany and Spain with one more point of ambition. He first waited for the world runner-up equipped behind, with a high pressure line to steal the ball and hurt an opponent who was already aware of the potential of one of the revelations of the championship.

On the other hand, Croatia could have gone ahead if Ivan Perisic hadn’t dawdled too much in the 8th minute after a serious mistake on the left flank by Tomiyasu, and his shot was saved by a successful Shuichi Gonda, or later Bruno Petkovic, in the 25th minute, He will not get entangled in the doubt between the kick and the assist.

The reply was given by Japan on a double occasion by Daizen Maeda, who narrowly missed Ito’s cross from the right wing, and Kamada, who in the 40th minute sent a cut into limbo inside the area after a collective play and patience of an Asian champion who was already the owner of the match.

Maeda’s goal on the edge of the break, after picking up a loose ball in the small area after a ‘laboratory’ corner kick centered by Ritsu Doan, was the consequence of better Japanese football against a Croatia in which Luka Modric and his group were overwhelmed in the first half by the physicality and touch of their rival.


Zlatko Dalic’s men paid the same price to Japan, who, unlike against Germany and Spain, found themselves outclassed at the start of the second half, in which veteran Dejan Lovren put a cross past Tottenham striker Perisic to equalize (1-1) with a header adjusted to the post.

Two distant lashes from Endo and Luka Modric were able to decide the pulse for the Japanese or Croatians in a match that had balanced towards the end, and in which two players known to the Spanish fans as Budimir (Osasuna) and Mario Pasalic, formerly of the Elche, tried to revolutionize the Balkans.

The Croatian improvement did not prevent extra time, in which Croatia, a “specialist” in extra time -as they demonstrated in Russia 2018 after overcoming three rounds towards “silver”- could not avoid the penalty shootout with a late attempt by Majer , Modric’s replacement, from the front of the area.

The ‘specialist’ Croatia proved their trade in the shootout, where Dominik Livakovic emerged to save three penalties and Japan’s dream of making history at the same time. Mario Pasalic scored the final goal that places the world runner-up in the quarterfinals. Modric breathed a sigh of relief because his international retirement will have to wait.


–RESULT: JAPAN, 1 – CROATIA, 1 (1-0, at halftime).


JAPAN: Gonda; Ito, Yoshida, Tomiyasu, Taniguchi, Nagatomo (Mitoma, min. 64); Morita (Tanaka, min. 106), Endo; Doan (Minamino, min. 87), Maeda (Asano, min. 64) and Kamada (Sakai, min. 75).

CROATIA: Livakovic; Juranovic, Lovren, Gvardiol, Barisic; Brozovic, Modric (Majer, min. 99), Kovacic (Vlasic, min. 99); Kramaric (Pasalic, min. 68), Petkovic (Budimir, min. 62; Livaja, min. 106) and Perisic (Orsic, min. 106).


1-0 min. 43: Maeda.

1-1 min. 55: perisic.

– Penalty shootout: 1-3.

Minamino: fail; Vlasic: goal; Mitoma: failure; Brozovic: goal; Asano: goal; Livaja: failure; Yoshida: fail; Passalic: goal.

–REFEREE: Ismail Elfath (USA). He admonished Kovacic (min. 90) and Barisic (min. 116), for Croatia.

–STADIUM: Al Yanub. 42,523 viewers.

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