The Dinamo Zagreb goalkeeper was the star after extra time. Pasalic, Brozovic and Vlasic: three “Italians” make no mistake from eleven metres
Croatia in the quarterfinals, but what a struggle. It took penalties to tame Japan, who came close to a historic qualification among the eight of a World Cup. The hero of the day is goalkeeper Livakovic, who saves three shots from the penalty spot, on Minamino, Mitoma and Yoshida. Croatia is celebrating, which already in Russia in 2018 had won three games over the 90th minute. A habit of suffering, after a first half closed down (goal by Maeda) and a second half that started in the best way, with Perisic’s equalizer. Croatia who will now face Brazil on Friday at 4pm.
Doan owner on one side, Petkovic and not Livaja on the other. Japan and Croatia change their attacks but not their way of playing. Moriyasu’s national team is all speed and tears, Croatia is dribbling. Except that this dribble, in the first half, flows with difficulty. And so the game is played by Nagatomo and his companions. They could already take the lead in the 3′ minute, with a cross from Endo – as usual a very good playmaker – who fishes Taniguchu’s head: wide. On the other hand, Croatia created a mistake by their opponents: in the 8th minute Tomiyasu didn’t handle a ball well in control, Perisic took the ball away from him and entered the area, but his shot was rejected by Gonda. Japan has more pace, especially on the right wing where Ito is almost impregnable for Barisic, who replaces the injured Borna Sosa. Just a cross from Ito, in the 12th minute, is a golden ball for Maeda, but the centre-forward doesn’t arrive on time for the appointment. In the central part Modric and his teammates try to lift the pressure a bit. In the 26th minute Gvardiol hits Petkovic straight, but the center forward misses the play in the box. Two minutes later, a cross from the left by Barisic was headed in by Petkovic, without Kramaric being able to deflect on goal at the far post. Endo leads the of him, Croatia returns to lower. In the 41st minute Kamada returns and shoots, failing to shoot from a good position. The goal is in the air. And it arrives in the 43rd minute: a cross in the area, banked by Yoshida and Maeda is very punctual this time, beating Livakovic.
Ready to go and in the 1st minute it’s Japan right away, even in the second half: Kamada’s right from the edge, not too high. Then, suddenly, Croatia equalized: in the 10th minute Lovren put in a well-worked ball, Perisic ran up to the far post, hitting a perfect header and finding the long corner. New balance. And a new chance for Japan, with a shot by Endo in the 12th minute which Livakovic puts in for a corner with some difficulty. First substitution: Dalic removes Petkovic and inserts Budimir. The call, however, belongs to Modric, up to now in the shadows: the Real Madrid champion with a right footed shot forces Gonda into overtime in the corner. Japan double substitution: Nagatomo and Maeda out, Mitoma and Asano in. Croatia increases ball possession. And in the 21st minute it nearly made it 2-1: a deflected shot by Kramaric which becomes an assist for Budimir, who however misses his header from an excellent position. Another touch-up by Dalic: in the 23rd minute Kramaric came out, Pasalic took his place. Now the game has changed: Croatia is in the opposing half of the field, Japan leans on the counter. We are 30′, Kamada gives way to Sakai. Croatia chance in the 32nd minute: Yoshida falls asleep, Budimir takes the ball away from him which lands on Perisic’s feet, who aims and then finishes with his left foot, deflected for a corner. Extra time is approaching, 5′ from the end Pasalic tries to push them away, with a header which ends up wide after yet another play by Perisic. It’s Minamino time for Doan. But nothing more happens, despite the 4′ of added time: we go to extra time, the first time here in Qatar.
We leave and the pace remains low, the stakes are too high. Dalic removes Modric and Kovacic, very tired, inserting Vlasic and Majer after 9 minutes. The race can only be decided at this point by one episode. And Mitoma almost built the episode on his own in the 15th minute, with a midfield sprint finished with a right-footed shot repelled by Livakovic with his fists. We move on to the second 15 minutes, with another substitution in Japan (in Tanaka, out Morita) and two in Croatia (Orsic for Perisic and Livaja for Budimir). Worth noting, in terms of chances, are two dangerous scrums for Croatia and a chance for Japan, with Mitoma unable to act as an aerial bank. Until the 120th minute, when Mayer fired his right-footed shot from the edge. He goes to penalties, to be kicked under the curve that hosts the Japanese fans. But the Croatians are celebrating: Livakovic’s saves on Minamino, Mitoma and Yoshida cancel Livaja’s post, the final signing is that of Pasalic. Brozovic and his teammates can rejoice.
December 5, 2022 (change December 5, 2022 | 22:18)
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