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World Cup: Livaković sends Croatia into quarterfinals

Croatia has advanced through to the quarterfinals of the 2022 FIFA World Cup after beating Japan on penalties at the Al Janoub Stadium on Monday. 

Croatia keeper Dominik Livaković was the hero for Croatia, and just like Danijel Subašić in Russia in 2018, he would save three penalties to send Croatia into the quarterfinals.

Coach Zlatko Dalić made two changes from the side which took on Belgium, bringing in Rangers left-back Borna Barišić in for the fatigued Borna Sosa and Bruno Petković for Marko Livaja.

Both sides started fairly cautiously, with Croatia making a lot of uncharacteristic technical mistakes early as they gave the ball away a number of times.

Ivan Perišić had an early chance when he found himself free in the box, but his shot would be saved by the Japan keeper. Croatia had another chance moments later but Andrej Kramarić failed to get on the end of a ball which went across the face of the goal. 

Croatia lacked movement off the ball into spaces in the first half and Japan had no problems nullifying attacks. They would themselves look dangerous in Croatia’s third and after a couple of close calls they would take the lead just before halftime.

Daizen Maeda was first to pounce in the six yard box when Maya Yoshida played the ball across the face of the goal following a cross that Croatia could not clear.  

There was a check for offside check against Shogo Taniguchi in the build-up but he was ruled to be just onside. 

Croatia got back into the game in the 55th minute when Ivan Perišić superbly headed home from a Dejan Lovren cross from the right. 

The goal opened the game up with chances coming at both ends. A shot from Modrić in the 62nd minute had to be well saved before Ante Budimir’s free header went just wide. 

Croatia were more aggressive in the second half and they looked the more likely to take the lead but they could not find a way through and the game would go into extra-time.

Japan had the first real chance in extra-time but Livaković made a good save from a powerful shot from the edge of the box. With both sides out on their feet, there were not many chances in extra-time but the best chance fell to Lovro Majer right at the death but his shot would go wide and the game would go into penalties. 

Livaković was the hero for Croatia, saving Japan’s first two penalties and then a third before Mario Pašalić stepped up to send Croatia into the quarterfinals.  

The quarterfinal will be played on Friday at 4 pm CET with Croatia facing the winner of the Brazil v South Korea match. 

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