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Japan 1 (1) - 1 (3)Croatia: Match report, player ratings, expert analysis, fan reaction and more

Dominik Livaković stood tall in goal while making three penalty shootout saves to help Croatia reach the quarterfinals of the 2022 World Cup


Croatia relied on old tricks last seen in Russia after an experienced European side came from behind against a credible Japan before earning a 3-1 win in a penalty shootout to book passage into the quarter-finals at the 2022 World Cup, ending the Asian outfit’s potential dream run to the next round while once again remaining hopeful of another deep run in the tournament.

In a result akin to their push to the finals four years ago where Croatia needed to turn to penalties twice four years ago before reaching the final against France, Luka Modrić and co. fought back after going a goal down before putting faith in their ability from the penalty spot.

Japan began the game the stronger, with Croatia seemingly struggling to keep up with the energy of their opponents, while Luka Modric could not exert his usual conductor-like influence on the occasion.

And, in a half of few chances, it was indeed the Japanese that took the lead late on, with Celtic forward Daizen Maeda in the right place at the right time to fire home from six yards out, leaving Modric and co. with an uphill battle to reach the last 8.

But, just minutes into the second half, Ivan Perisic leveled things for Croatia, rising highest to head into the bottom corner following a cross from Dejan Lovren, and hand his side a foothold back in the tie.

The scoreline remained level at one as proceedings moved into extra-time for the first time in the round of 16 but both nations seemed content with allowing the additional thirty minutes to result in the tournament’s first shootout despite Japan working out the best chance before the second interval.

Both head coaches made some big calls regarding their substitutions, with Hidemasa Morita, Luka Modrić, Mateo Kovačić, and Ivan Perišić all being taken out of the possible 12-yard firing line in favor of what could only be described as better shootout options.

In the end, those choices made by Zlatko Dalić proved decisive as Croatia reached the quarterfinals after two of the three substitutions called upon by Dalić converted their efforts from the spot.


Player ratings

Japan

  • GK: Shuichi Gonda (7) - Made one good save against Modric
  • CB: Takehiro Tomiyasu (6) - Lucky not to be punished after he lost the ball on the edge of his own area in the first half. Was very solid otherwise but spurned a late shooting chance to put his side 2-1 up.
  • CB: Maya Yoshida (7) - An assist on Japan’s first-half goal highlighted a good performance at the back.
  • CB: Shogo Taniguchi (6) -
  • RWB: Junya Ito (8) - Had his best game of the tournament as he proved a constant threat on the right flank.
  • CM: Wataru Endo (7) - Did really well to keep the Croatian midfield quiet in the first half but faded as the game went on.
  • CM: Hidemasa Morita (7) - Worked hard in tandem with Endo, and did well to
  • LWB: Yuto Nagatomo (6) - A solid outing for Nagatomo before being taken off on the hour.
  • CAM: Daichi Kamada (8) - Had an excellent first half but was more muted in the second. Substituted with 15 minutes to go.
  • ST: Ritsu Doan - (5) - Worked hard but was otherwise quiet for the Japanese.
  • ST: Daizen Maeda (8) - Worked really hard and finally found the back of the net after missing a big chance earlier in the half. A top outing for the Celtic man.

Substitutes

  • Takuma Asano (5) - Could do little to change the flow of proceedings after his introduction.
  • Kyro Mitoma (6) - Played one glorious pass that should have resulted in a goal and added some much-needed energy.
  • Hiroki Sakai (6) - The veteran full-back worked hard and provided a bit of pace down the right but was not able to contribute further.
  • Takumi Minamino (5) - Came on five minutes before the end of normal time. Missed his penalty in the shootout.
  • Ao Tanaka (N/A) - Came on at the beginning of the second extra time period but could not work himself into proceedings.

Croatia

  • GK: Dominik Livaković (8) - Nearly caught on the ball but was otherwise solid during play. Made three saves in the shootout.
  • RB: Josip Juranović (6) - Decent on the day but can be viewed as somewhat of a weak point at times.
  • CB: Dejan Lovren: (7) - Tidy on the ball and provided a delicious cross for Ivan Perisic to nod home the equalizer.
  • CB: Joško Gvardiol (6) - Looked far from his imperious best in the heart of the Croatian backline.
  • LB: Borna Barašić (6) - A step down on first-choice left-back Sosa and looked exhausted after the hour. Picked up an unnecessary yellow card.
  • CM: Marcelo Brozović (7) - Kept the game ticking nicely and did well to break up Japanese attacks.
  • CM: Luka Modrić (7) - Well off the pace in the first half but much better in the second and helped Croatia dominate the game.
  • CM: Mateo Kovačić (6) - Tidy but very quiet.
  • RW: Andrej Kramarić (5) - Hardly saw the ball during his 65 minutes on the pitch. A night to forget.
  • LW: Ivan Perisić (8) - His side’s best player and the man who looked most likely to make something happen, he became his country’s record scorer at World Cups
  • ST: Bruno Petković: (5) - Had a poor evening leading the line for Croatia and was taken off on the hour.

Substitutes

  • Ante Budimir (5) - Headed a glorious chance wide minutes after coming on. Added very little else before being subbed off.
  • Mario Pašalić (6) - Provided his side with some much-needed energy as they looked to find the winner.
  • Lovro Majer (6) - A surprise sub for Modrić but did not come close to offering the same influence.
  • Nikola Vlašić (6) - Similar to Majer; replaced Perišić but with little ability to keep the same level.
  • Marko Livaja (N/A) - A targeted sub for a possible shootout.
  • Miroslav Oršić (N/A) - Similar to Livaja, his introduction brought fresh legs but was geared toward penalty drama.

Key Stats:

Expert Analysis:

Fan reaction:

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Ben Browning

Ben Browning

Football writer and analyst. Long-time writer of all things Arsenal and avid watcher of European football. Happy to discuss all things football over on Twitter.



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