Japan failed to reach the last eight after a long and competitive collision with Croatia.
Unlike their previous performance in their group stage, Japan had created several good opportunities from the beginning of the first half. In the 43rd minute the story was the same, with Daichi Kamada missing a huge opportunity but this time Daizen Maeda’s left foot made a difference from the inside of the goal area.
On the other hand, Croatia did not make use of some important opportunities mainly created by long balls. In addition, it looked like they were struggling to deal with the Samurai Blue’s effective offense.
In the second half, Croatia hit back with Ivan Perisic’s thumping header cancelling out Maeda’s opener in the 55th minute. With this equaliser as a start, Croatia gradually started possessing the ball. After all, however, the deadlock was not broken till the end of the second half so the game went into overtime, which was the first extra time in this World Cup.
Croatia rarely looked like relinquishing momentum throughout the extra time but Japan kept denying desperate situations with solid defense. Despite the additional 30 minutes, both teams could not change the score and one of the most competitive games in the knockout round went into penalty kicks.
Surprisingly, Dominik Livakovic, the Croatian goalkeeper, denied three in this penalty shootout and gave a victory to his country. Japan’s incredible journey in Qatar came to an end.