Japan and Croatia played out a 1-1 vibrant stalemate which resulted in an exhilarating penalty shootout.
The Japanese presided over the Croats throughout the first half, creating more substantial opportunities to find the back of the net. Croatia nonetheless showcased their experience, seizing control of the remainder of the game, eventually seeing Japan off.
Japanese center-half Shogo Tanganuchi nearly put the Samurai Blue ahead in the third minute with a glancing header. He was just too wide with the effort though.
Croatia practically found themselves level, when Ivan Perisic capitalized on an error from Arsenal center-half Takehior Tomiyasu in the ninth minute. However, with the angle too narrow, the left winger’s efforts were saved by Shuichi Gonda.
On the cusp of the close to the first 45, Japan found themselves ahead in the early stages of the first half, following a witty short corner that saw immaculate poaching by Daizen Maeda.
Croatia was outrun and outplayed throughout the first 45, but a replenished half-time pep talk saw the Vatreni resurge during the second half.
Just when they were counted out, Dejan Lovren and Ivan Perisic aligned for a moment of brilliance to level the game for the Vatreni. Perisic found the goal with a fine header, connecting with Lovren’s cross.
The two teams were level-headed into the 90-minute mark. As such, the two countries were set to settle the clash in extra time. They displayed their resilience, which meant the inevitable. Penalties! All to play for.
Dominik Livakovic’s gallant of saving three penalties sent the Croats through to the Quarter-Finals. They are slated to face the victor of Brazil and South Korea!