Doha: the blue samurai, the 2022 FIFA World Cup underdogs finally meet their end. The Japanese defeated the 2010 champions and 2014 champions en route to R16. Finally, Croatia defeated Blue Samurai on penalties thanks to Dominik Livakovic.
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The game started very stagnant, but the tense atmosphere collapsed the public. The rise of the Asian nations in the 2022 FIFA World Cup is a very attractive factor for Qatar. The Croats entered the match as group runners-up behind Morocco and the Japanese are one of the most interesting threats. The Japanese with rock ribs foreshadowed in the penalty area several times.
The short corner at 43′ saw Maya Yoshida’s head in Maeda’s legs. Daizen Maeda, 25, fired the goal past Livakovic. The Japanese kept control of possession and kept the Croats out for the first half. In the second half, the Croats gained some authority over the Japanese. The Croats showed some light with Perisic heading a powerful shot into the net.
Dejan Lovren centered an under-hit cross into the danger zone. Perisic, who was right there, hit the net past the Japanese keeper. The match remained deadlocked at 1-1 for the remaining half. Both sides tried scoring chances. The match went to subsequent extra time, another stalemate. The Croats marched fiercely towards the goal area in a very intense manner. The final minutes tensed the entire atmosphere of the stadium. Finally, the game went to penalties.
Livakovic – The birth of a hero. The 27-year-old Dinamo Zagreb goalkeeper saved three of the Asian’s shots. The Croatian saved attempts by Takumi, Mitomi and Yoshida. Instead, Pasalic, Vlasic and Brozovic found the net.
The Asians failed to win another R16 match. Meanwhile, the Croats maintain their perfect record for penalty kicks in the majors. They will now face the winners of Brazil vs South Korea in the quarterfinals.
Can the 2018 runners-up win the cup this time?