Tied 1-1 after 120 minutes, Croatian goalkeeper Dominic Livakovic saved three penalty attempts and Croatia eliminated Japan 3-1 in penalties to advance to the World Cup quarterfinals.
The Croatias will match up against the winners of the Brazil-Korea Republic round of 16 match in the quarterfinals on Dec. 9.
After going down 1-0 at halftime against Spain and Germany, Japan flipped the script and found the opening goal late in the first half. Yuto Nagatomo sent a low cross for Daizen Meada who tapped in his first of the tournament.
Croatia responded in the 55th minute when Dejan Lovren located Ivan Perisic with a cross inside the box to level the score. The Tottenham forward became Croatia’s top goalscorer at the World Cup (10 goals) as well as tied Mario Madzukic as the nation’s second all-time goalscorer (33 goals).
The 2022 World Cup saw its first extra time period, and subsequently its first penalty shootout, following a 1-1 draw after 120 minutes.
Livakovic denied Takumi Minamino and Kaoru Mitoma on the first two penalties and Croatia took a 2-0 lead in the shootout.
Marko Livaja hit the post on his spot kick, giving Japan a slimmer of hope but Livakovic saved Maya Yoshida’s attempt.
Nikola Vlasic berried the winning penalty sending Croatia to the quarterfinals.