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Japan's awful penalties sent them crashing out of the World Cup

Ryan Sidle

| Last updated 

Japan's awful penalties sent them crashing out of the World Cup

Japan crashed out of the World Cup in the last 16, after a dreadful set of penalties in a shootout against Croatia, in Qatar.

In the group stages, Japan caused two of the greatest World Cup shocks as they had to beat both Germany and Spain to go through, also incredibly losing to Costa Rica.

The win over Luis Enrique's side knocked Germany out of the tournament, thanks to an extremely controversial winner, and earned them a game against Croatia, in the first knockout stage.

The beaten finalists from 2018 were actually lucky to get through, after Romelu Lukaku's four misses in the second half sent Belgium home instead.


Ideally, Hajime Moriyasu's knew his team would need to start early in their last 16 game with Croatia, with Luka Modric and his fellow countrymen known for their comebacks.

Japan took the lead in the 43rd minute, through Daizen Maeda but, as they often do, the Europeans brought it back level in the 55th minute, through Ivan Perisic.

They had one extra time and two penalty shootout wins in their run to the final four and a half years ago, and once again it went all the way.

However, this wasn't about Croatia's expertise from 12 yards out and was more about the Asian side's inability to convert from the spot.

Takumi Minamino, Kaoru Mitoma and Maya Yoshida all had their efforts saved, but none of them made goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic work hard at all, with only Takuma Asano scoring.

Minamino's effort was really poor, low and to Livakovic's left, but it wasn't too far off being central and went nowhere near the corner.

Nikola Vlasic was the first taker for Zlatko Dalic's side and the forward dispatched his effort perfectly, putting them well on the way to another victory.

Next up was Mitoma, and once again he made it too easy for the keeper to palm it away, this down to his right, with not much power put on the spot kick.

Marcelo Brozovic then put his effort away and it already looked like Japan would require a miracle, although Asano finally got his team off the mark, putting the ball the opposite side to Livakovic's dive.

Hope sprang eternal as a casual effort from Marko Livaja struck the post, giving Japan a glimmer of hope b, but Yoshida then put a weak effort on target for the keeper to save again.

Atalanta midfielder Mario Pasalic showed no signs of nerves, as he put his penalty right in the bottom corner, securing a quarter final for Croatia.

Croatia players celebrate with their goalkeeper. Image: Alamy
Croatia players celebrate with their goalkeeper. Image: Alamy

On their way to the final in Russia, Croatia beat Denmark and the hosts on penalties, before needing extra time to defeat England in the semi final.

Their only knockout game that didn't go past the 90th minute mark was the final, which they lost 4-2 to France.

They were also knocked out of Euro 2020 in the last 16 by Spain after extra time, meaning that five of their past six tournament knockout games has gone past 90 minutes.

Croatia will face either Brazil or South Korea in the next round, don't bet on it finishing after just an hour and a half's worth of football.

Featured Image Credit: BBC

Topics: Japan, Football World Cup, Football, Croatia

Ryan Sidle
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