FOX Sports activities Insider
AL WAKRAH, Qatar — Eventually, we have been going to see one. A penalty shootout, probably the most brutal, thrilling, painful, joyous, triumphant, devastating, and — greater than something — sudden slice of drama that soccer has to supply.
On this evening, a high-quality contest between two excellent groups got here all the way down to this, a collection of kicks from the spot. A lottery, as it’s so usually referred to as. There’s talent to it, after all. And a few luck.
Croatia hit the jackpot and is shifting on to the quarterfinals. Japan went bust, and is heading out of the match after offering a lot enjoyment and a pair of magnificent upsets in opposition to Germany and Spain.
Dominik Livaković was the hero for Croatia as he stopped three Japanese photographs within the shootout. Croatia received on the penalty shootout.
Within the shootout, goalkeeper Dominik Livaković made three vital saves as Croatia prevailed 3-1, with Mario Pasalic slotting residence the clinching kick.
As soon as Takumi Minamino missed with Japan’s first effort, there was no coming again, and Croatia marches on to a Friday matchup in opposition to the winner of Monday’s later conflict between Brazil and Switzerland (2 p.m. ET on FOX and the FOX Sports activities App).
Japan, with out query, had been one of the crucial gratifying groups to observe in the complete match.
Few gave Japan an opportunity of advancing from a group that included 2010 champion Spain and 2014 victor Germany. However Japan went one higher than that, topping the group after beating each these esteemed rivals.
The Samurai Blue‘s progress at this World Cup is, frankly talking, the sort of development United States followers would like to see from the lads’s nationwide workforce, fostering a way of really belonging at elite world stage as a substitute of striving to get to that time.
Mario Pasalic’s kick wins it!
Mario Pasalic scores the game-winning PK within the shootout to clinch a win for Croatia over Japan.
Japan was the higher workforce for many of the first hour and was worthy of its 1-0 halftime lead. On 43 minutes, Ritsu Doan clipped in an excellent ball that bounced off two gamers and landed completely for Daizen Maeda, who calmly completed from six yards out.
Croatia’s equalizer got here in opposition to the run of play, nevertheless it was a end of the highest high quality from an excellent participant. Ivan Perisic was so instrumental in serving to Croatia attain the ultimate 4 years in the past, and his header of uncommon energy was completely positioned after 55 minutes, angled past the attain of Japan goalkeeper Shuichi Gonda.
Each groups had additional probabilities, however this one had an inevitable really feel about — maybe defined by the statistic that six of Croatia’s earlier World Cup and European Championships knockout spherical video games had gone to further time.
Throughout the extra interval, Japan’s hazard on the break was clear and current.
Kaoru Mitoma, such a clutch performer all through the occasion, embarked upon a run that took him half the size of the pitch earlier than his highly effective drive was pushed over by Livakovic.
Luka Modric was subbed off for Croatia, his 37-year-old legs not springy sufficient for 120 minutes as of late.
Ivan Perisic scores for Croatia
Croatia’s Ivan Perisic evens the sport within the fifty fifth minute.
So usually, pure warning wins the day throughout further time, with penalty kicks seemingly a magnetic consequence. Solely as soon as through the 2018 match was a recreation received through a objective within the extra interval — when Croatia received previous England within the semifinal.
With the ultimate kick of additional time, Lovro Majer had one of many evening’s greatest alternatives, however slashed his strike simply broad of Gonda’s put up.
And so, right here, it will go to the merciless, exhilarating crucible of the spot. Zlatko Dalic’s Croatia was extensively dismissed heading into the World Cup, supposedly too outdated and now not constant sufficient.
However Croatia is battle-tested and confirmed right here it would not at all times should be at its greatest to advance. And advance Croatia will, quarterfinalists as soon as extra and a real contender.
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Martin Rogers is a columnist for FOX Sports activities and the creator of the FOX Sports activities Insider publication. Comply with him on Twitter @MRogersFOX and subscribe to the day by day publication.
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