, author: Ermakova M.

Livakovic leads Croatia to World Cup quarter-finals

The Japanese team was good again, but everything was decided in the penalty shootout.

In the match between Japan and Croatia in the 1/8 finals of the World Cup in Qatar, nothing could be expected, except for a stubborn and fairly equal fight. On the side of the Japanese is incredible diligence, the ability to wait for the moment, and courage. Croats, albeit older and slower, are more skillful, and in fighting qualities they are not inferior.

From the first minutes, the opponents did not become overly cautious and exchanged dangerous attacks already in the opening. In the 3rd minute, Shogo Taniguchi, after a corner kick, only slightly missed the left corner, and in the 8th minute, the Japanese goalkeeper Shuichi Gonda rescued after a defender's mistake and Ivan Perisic's breakthrough. At the 13th minute, the players from the Land of the Rising Sun organized an even more dangerous attack: Daichi Kamada closed the cross at the far post, but at the last moment he was prevented by Josip Yuranovich.

After that, the game calmed down a bit. The Japanese defended very competently, and the Croats almost failed to find free zones through which an attack could be organized. Gradually, the Asians raised the pressure and already in the center met the “checkered”, which became increasingly difficult to get out of defense. It seemed that the Japanese team aims to wear down the Croats, make them nervous, expend energy—and then strike. This pressure and fearlessness in front of the vice-champion of the world resulted in the first goal in the 43rd minute: after a free-kick, a serve to the far post followed, the ball bounced off Yuranovich, and Daizen Maeda accurately shot into the corner from the penalty line.

The second half did not seem to promise optimism to the fans of the Croatian national team: the Japanese dominated the center. All the more sudden was the return goal in the 55th minute: Zenit defender Dejan Lovren beautifully spun the ball into the left corner of the goalkeeper's area, where Perisic shot irresistibly.

But the Japanese did not even think of breaking, and after two minutes Endo powerfully hit from 25 meters, and Dominik Livakovich parried the ball in a beautiful jump. Croats responded with two dangerous attacks: Syuiti Gonda pulled out the ball, launched by Luka Modric into the top nine, and then Ante Budimir missed the near corner.

The last twenty minutes of normal time passed much calmer - the price of a mistake grew, but in general the Croats seized the advantage, and they did not run out of strength. Not eventful came and extra time. But the penalty shoot-out became Livakovych's benefit performance. The goalkeeper of the Balkans took three hits from Takumi Minamino, Kaoru Mitoma and May Yoshida. Gonda also flashed, but he managed only with a shot from Marco Livay.

It's a pity for the Japanese - they played fresh and persistently, but the playoffs are a cruel thing. And the Croats proved that they are still in order: the quarter-final for them is a completely acceptable result.

Match protocol

Japan - Croatia - 1:1 (1:0, 0:1, 0:0, 0:0), pen. 1:3.
5th of December. El Wakra. El Janub Stadium.
Judge - Elfat (USA).
Japan: Gonda, Yoshida, Taniguchi, Tomiyasu, Nagatomo (Mitoma, 64), Endo, Morita (Tanaka, 105), Kamada (Sakai, 75), Ito, Doan (Mimino, 87), Maeda (Asano, 64).
Croatia: Livakovic, Juranovic, Lovren, Guardiol, Barisic, Modric (Mayer 99), Kovacic (Vlasic 99), Brozovic, Perisic (Orsic 105), Kramaric (Pasalic 68), Petkovic (Budimir 62; Livaya, 105).
Goals: 1:0 Maeda (43), 1:1 Perisic (55).
Penalty shootout: 0:0 Minamino (goalkeeper), 0:1 Vlasic, 0:1 Mitoma (goalkeeper), 0:2 Brozovic, 1:2 Asano, 1:2 Livaya (goalkeeper), 1:2 Yoshida (goalkeeper), 1:3 Pashalic.
Booked: Kovacic (90), Barisic (116).