World Cup: Heroics From Goalkeeper Livakovic Sends Croatia Through

By Chidi Nwoke, Abuja.

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Croatia goalkeeper Dominic Livakovic stole the show in the contest against Japan after saving three penalties in the shootout, before Mario Pasalic scored the winning spot-kick in their 3-1 victory, as the Europeans reached the quarter-finals of the 2022 FIFA World Cup after playing 1-1 in regulation time.

Japan started with Daizen Maeda in attack at the Al Janoub Stadium, with Daichi Kamada and Ritsu Doan supporting on the wings. Croatia featured Bruno Petkovic up-front while Ivan Perisic and Andrej Kramaric were on the flanks.

Just before halftime, striker Maeda opened the scoring for Japan. The striker received a lovely cross from Doan and fired past Livakovic.

Japan striker Daizen Maeda (25) celebrates goal against Croatia with teammates.

The Asians went into the break 1-0 ahead, with Croatia against the ropes in the first half.

Croatia winger Perisic then headed his team level in the 55th minute after meeting a cross from defender Dejan Lovren, making the scores 1-1.

Croatia winger Ivan Perisic (4) scores header against Japan during World Cup match.

As both sides couldn’t be separated, the match became the first knockout game in Qatar to go beyond the 90th minute-mark as the game ended in deadlock.

In extra-time, both teams threatened and were determined not to lose focus. Japan went close through substitute Kaoru Mitoma, while Croatia’s Lovro Majer missed an opportunity. The referee then indicated for penalties.

In the shootout, three of Japan’s penalties were saved by goalkeeper Livakovic. Croatia missed just one of their spot-kicks, scoring the other three to reach its third successive FIFA World Cup quarter-finals.

Croatia players celebrate 3-1 penalty shootout victory against Japan, during 2022 FIFA World Cup match.

It had to go to penalties as Japan played superbly throughout the contest and the tournament. They exit the competition with their heads held high after performing brilliantly at the World Cup.

For Croatia, they will face either Brazil or South Korea in the quarter-finals.

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