Croatia became the third European side to reach the quarterfinals of the 2022 FIFA World Cup after the defeated a valiant Japan side on penalties. The 2018 runners-up claimed a 3-1 win on penalties after the match ended level in regulation time.
Having come out on top of a group that had Spain and Germany, Japan were up against another top European side in Croatia. The Croatian side finished second in their group behind Morocco. Each sides started the match looking to outfox the other as they looked to gain an early advantage, but they only managed to cancel each other out.
With half-time approaching, Japan drew first blood in the clash. A short corner routine saw Ritsu Doan put in a cross which was headed down by Maya Yoshida. Celtic striker Daizen Maeda reacted quickest to stab home in the 43rd minute.
Croatia drew level in the 56th minute through Tottenham winger Ivan Perisic. The 34-year-old rose highest to power home a header off a cross from Dejan Lovren.
Both sides struggled to break each other down and create openings as they cancelled each other out until the end of the match. They failed to score in regular time, warranting extra time. Throughout the 30 minutes of football that ensued, neither side found the net and the game went to a penalty shootout.
Japan missed the first penalty as Takumi Minamino saw his effort saved by Dominik Livakovic. Livakovic pulled off two more saves to thwart the Japanese, with only Takuma Asano scoring past him. Croatia scored three of their four penalties, with Marko Livaja the only player to miss for them. They ran out 3-1 winners at the end of the game.
Croatia has now won all three of their World Cup penalty shootouts and join Netherlands, England and France in representing Europe in the last eight of the competition.