Japan bade goodbye to their 2022 World Cup dreams after a 3-1 defeat against Croatia in the penalty shootout. Japan opened their scoring towards the end of the first half after Daizen Maeda scored from a brilliant header. The equalizer from Croatia came in a similar manner in the early second half from Ivan Perisic.
It also marked his 10th goal at major tournaments, with which he surpassed Davor Suker and became the highest scorer for Croatia at major events.
Croatia seals victory after a 3-1 penalty win
After a thrilling 90-minute game, the scores were locked at 1-1 with no modifications in the extra minute. Then came the anticipated shootout, with both teams trying their best to clear it and advance toward the round of 8.
In the penalties, Croatian goalkeeper Dominik Livakovich was the hero with three quality saves. Takumi Minamino and Kaoru Mitoma took the first two shots for Japan but failed to slide it inside the goalpost as Dominik Livakovich saved it smoothly.
The first three Croatian shots were on target, with Mario Pasalic, the midfielder taking the fifth shot (the fourth one was a miss) and entering it inside the post, concluding Japan’s World Cup dreams for this year. As the 2018 finalists started celebrating among themselves, the Japanese players were devasted, with a few tears in their eyes.
They had been doing really well in the tournament, and an exit at this stage wasn’t something they were planning for.
Croatia will take on the Brazil-South Korea winner in the Quarterfinals.
Japan’s captain gets emotional
Maya Yoshida, the Japan captain, was super emotional after the match and could barely hold his tears. He said that it was difficult to accept this because they had been working hard to achieve their dream. He thanked his teammates for being phenomenal in defeating Spain and Germany.