Welcome to our live blog of Croatia vs Japan in the Round of 16 at the World Cup! Everything is on the line for the two nations, as they look to secure a place in the quarter-finals.
Japan make three changes to their starting lineup. Takehiro Tomiyasu comes into defence, who has been a key player for his nation when he has featured. Meanwhile, Croatia make two changes with Borna Barisic and Bruno Petkovic forcing their way into the starting lineup.
‘1 – An early Japan free-kick provides a strong opportunity for Hajime Moriyasu’s men, but everyone fails to connect.
‘3 – CLOSE! Shogo Taniguchi comes inches away from opening the scoring! The defender latches onto a floated cross from the right flank, but he places his free header wide of the post.Embed from Getty Images
‘5 – Croatia are starting to dictate possession here, but they are yet to challenge the Japanese defence.
‘7 – Junya Ito breaks forward down the right wing and tries to find Daizen Maeda with a threaded pass, but the attempt is intercepted.
‘8 – HUGE CHANCE! A mistake from Tomiyasu puts Ivan Perisic through on goal. However, it’s a tight angle for the Spurs wing-back, and his shot is saved superbly by Shuichi Gonda. Perisic will be really disappointed that he missed that.
’11 – This is now a really even game between the two nations. We’ve got an intriguing match ahead!
’13 – CLOSE! Japan very nearly took the lead there. Ito breaks forward down the right wing and tries to find Maeda with a threaded pass, but the forward can not connect.
’17 – Japan do well to play out of the Croatia press and work the ball to Yuto Nagatomo out wide. He sends in a good cross but Maeda fails to connect with it.
’19 – Doan wins a free-kick and Japan try a unique routine, but Croatia do well to clear the danger.
’21 – Ito whips another low cross into the box, but it is easily collected by Dominik Livakovic.Embed from Getty Images
’25 – There’s not much to talk about at the moment. The tempo of the game is slowing down as Croatia patiently try to break down the Japan defence.
’28 – Barisic sends a cross into Perisic, who flicks it toward the back post. Andrej Kramaric tries to get on the end of it but is crowded out by Japanese defenders.
’31 – Japan finally break forward but Croatia once again get bodies back quickly and smother the ball away from Yuto Nagatomo.
’34 – Doan and Maeda do well to link up on the edge of the box but the final pass is still missing for Japan. This is becoming a recurring theme for The Samurai Blue.
’38 – Japan are having a strong spell of possession at the moment, but nothing meaningful is coming from it.
’41 – SO CLOSE! Kamada has a glorious chance to give his nation the lead, but he scuffs his shot high and wide! Japan bided their time brilliantly on the edge of the box, Kamada latches onto the through-ball, but his effort is poor and fails to threaten the goalkeeper.Embed from Getty Images
’43 – GOALLLLLLL! JAPAN 1-0! It’s been coming, and the The Samurai Blue take the lead at the end of the first half. Japan take a short corner to Doan, who whips a sueprb ball into the six yard box. Maya Yoshida wins the initial header, before the ball falls to Maeda who smashes it home! An incredible moment for the striker!
HALF TIME! Japan 1-0 Croatia. It’s a thoroughly deserved lead for Japan, who will be delighted with their performance.
SECOND HALF BEGINS! Both sides are unchanged.
’46 – Japan start quickly and Kamada tries his luck from distance but shoots just over the bar. It’s always worth a shot in those situations!
’50 – Japan are pressing much higher up the pitch than they did in the first period. They are refusing to drop back as Kamada and Maeda lead the press.
’52 – Petkovic wins the ball back in the final third, but he takes too long on the ball, and is dispossessed easily. That’s really disappointing from the striker, and it sums up his performance so far.
’54 – Ito whips in a high whipped cross into the box from the right flank. Maeda tries to latch onto it, but it is cleared away for a corner.
’56 – GOALLLLL! CROATIA ARE LEVEL! Dejan Lovren whips in a stunning floated cross from the right flank. Perisic finds some space inside the box, and powerfully heads home into the bottom right corner. You won’t see many better headers than that! That goal makes him Croatia’s all-time top scorer at major competitions.Embed from Getty Images
’58 – CLOSE! Wataru Endo tries his luck from distance, and forces a superb save from Livakovic. Do not take your eyes away from this match!
’62 – SUBSTITUTE Ante Budimir replaces Petkovic in attack for Croatia.
’63 – SAVE! Luka Modric shoots on the half-volley and connect well with the ball. Gonda dives to his right a makes a good save against the dipping effort.
’64 – DOUBLE SUBSTITUTION Takuma Asano and Kaoru Mitoma come on for Maeda and Nagatomo retrospectively.
’66 – WHAT A CHANCE It’s good passing move from Croatia and Kramaric proceeds to send in a good cross to Budimir. The striker heads the ball wide of the target from close range! That was a glorious chance.Embed from Getty Images
’68 – SUBSTITUTE Mario Pasalic comes on for Kramaric. It’s been a disappointing performance from the striker.
’72 – Doan is doing well to receive the ball between the lines and help Japan move up the pitch. He’s the brightest light for Japan at the moment.
’75 – SUBSTITUTE! Hiroki Sakai comes on for Kamada. The Frankfurt forward has not had the impact he would have hoped for today.
’77 – Perisic drives forward and shoots, but Tomiyasu does well to block the attempt. The winger is at the heart of everything at the moment.
’81 – Both sides are going for the win here rather than hoping for some luck in extra time.
’85 – Asano picks the ball down the right-hand flank. He drives forward, but he is hounded out of play by Croatia.
’87 – SUBSTITUTE Takumi Minamino replaces Doan for Japan. They’ve been losing energy in the last few minutes, so this change is definitely needed.
’89 – YELLOW CARD! Matteo Kovacic is the first to enter the book for Croatia.
’90 – There will be four minutes added on. Both sides are now looking very weary.
END OF 90 MINUTES. Nothing can separate the two sides, and we are heading into extra time for the first time at the World Cup.
EXTRA TIME BEGINS! Both sides are unchanged for the extra 30 minutes.
’92 – Taniguchi does well to win the header from a corner but cannot guide his effort toward the target.
’94 – Mitoma drives forward and plays the ball into Asano, but the striker cannot get the pass under control and Croatia clear the danger.
’96 – Tomiyasu and Pasalic are receiving protocol checks for a clash of heads. Both are fine and good to carry on.
’99 – SUBSTITUTE Lovro Majer and Nikola Vlasic replaced Kovacic and Modric retrospectively. The former Spurs midfielder has struggled today, but he receives a wonderful applause as he leaves the field.
‘103 – Japan are finding it difficult to get a hold of possession or even break forward as they focus on defending for the time being. Is this match heading towards penalties? It looks like it…
‘105 – SAVE! Mitoma sprints to the edge of the box before shooting, but Livakovic makes a good save to stop the powerful effort. That came out of nowhere!Embed from Getty Images
‘105 – There will be two minutes added on.
HALF TIME IN EXTRA TIME! There’s just 15 minutes left to separate this two, or we’ll be heading to the dreaded penalties…
‘106 – SUBSTITUTES The second half of extra time begins, and Ao Taneka comes on for Hidemasa Morita for Japan. Whilst, Marko Livaja and Mislav Orsic replace Budimir and goal scorer Perisic for Croatia.
‘107 – Croatia are continuing to press high up the pitch as the attack is now made up of fresh substitutes.
‘109 – Mitoma finds himself in a good position again but chooses to cross this time rather than shoot. The chance comes to nothing in this case.
‘113 – Gonda catches the ball from a cross and tries to find Asano with a long kick up the pitch. Josko Gvardiol does well to intercept and put pressure back on Japan. This match has failed to kick into life in extra time.
‘116 – YELLOW CARD! Barisic enters the book after a reckless challenge.
‘120 – There will be one minute added on.
END OF EXTRA TIME! We are heading to a penalty shoot-out!
PENALTY (1) – MINAMINO’S PENALTY IS SAVED! VLASIC SCORES!
PENALTY (2) – MITOMA’S PENALTY IS SAVED! BROZOVIC SCORES! It looks like Croatia might win this!
PENALTY (3) – ASANO SCORES! LIVAJA MISSES! Is there hope for Japan?
PENALTY (4) – YOSHIDA MISSES! PASALIC SCORES! CROATIA WIN 4-1!Embed from Getty Images
It’s the end of the road for Japan, but they can be proud of their efforts this World Cup. Croatia march onto the quarter-finals, and will face the winner of Brazil vs South Korea tonight!
Player of the Match – Ivan Perisic
It was a superb performance from the winger, who scored the crucial equaliser for Croatia. He was at the heart of everything, but weary legs meant he was unable to take part in the shoot-out.Embed from Getty Images