Croatia Knocks Japan Out Of The Round of 16

The 2018 World Cup runners-up, Croatia, are on to the quarter-finals. Since gaining independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, the European side has featured in the FIFA World Cup on six occasions: in 1998, 2002, 2006, 2014, 2018, and now 2022 in Qatar. Croatia’s best run was in 2018 when they lost 4-2 to defending champions France.

Coming into the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, Croatia has not been looking as good as they did in the previous World Cup but has shown resilience on several occasions. Drawn up in Group F with Morocco, Belgium, and Canada, Croatia barely made it out, finishing as runners-up, behind Morocco and just a point ahead of Belgium. If you want to know about England vs France Football Match, click here.

Familiar path

Croatia is unbeaten in their last three World Cup games that had to be decided by penalty shootouts. At the 2018 World Cup, they eliminated Denmark in the round of 16 through penalties after drawing 1-1 at the end of the extra period. In the same tournament, hosts Russia faced the same fate as Denmark in the quarter-finals after a 2-2 draw.

On Monday against Japan, the two equally scrappy sides started the game with much energy, but with time, Croatia began to control the game as expected. Perisic had Croatia’s best half chance but could not beat Japan’s goalie Shuichi  Gonda. Despite creating fewer chances than Croatia, Japan got its golden chance in the 43rd minute, and Daizen Maeda scored his first tournament goal. In a relatively slow second half, the only highlight in the second half was when Ivan Perisic equalized for Croatia. The Tottenham Hotspur winger headed one in passed Gonda in the 55th minute. After a quiet extra time that ended goallessly, the two sides went on to penalty shootouts. Dinamo Zagreb goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic who saved three of the four Japan penalties, was the hero for Croatia. Only Asano scored one for Japan, and Croatia won it 3-1. Croatia is now set to play Brazil in Qatar’s quarter-finals of the 2022 World Cup.

A final bow

For the second time in a row, Japan has made it out of the group stages and has been eliminated in the round of 16 each time. This year, however, they have had a more impressive run distributing shockwaves and heartbreaks. In their opening match against Germany, Japan shocked the world when they won 2-1 against the 4-time champions and World Cup favorites Germany. After losing 1-0 to Costa Rica, Japan beat Spain 2-1 and led Group E with six points.

Japanese fans have been among the most active in this World Cup competition, from supporting their team passionately to voluntarily cleaning stadiums after games. After losing to Croatia, Japan’s coach Hajime Moriyasu was seen facing the stands, after which he gave a big bow in an authentic Japanese way to thank the loyal fans.

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