Japan vs Croatia, World Cup 2022 result: Croatia win penalty shootout to reach quarter-finals

Japan vs Croatia, World Cup 2022 result: Croatia win penalty shootout to reach quarter-finals - SHUTTERSTOCK
Japan vs Croatia, World Cup 2022 result: Croatia win penalty shootout to reach quarter-finals - SHUTTERSTOCK

Japan 1 Croatia 1 AET (Croatia win 3-1 on penalties)

By James Ducker at Al Janoub Stadium

Yugo Nagatomo had talked before this game that it was an opportunity for Japan to show how they could “fight like Samurais” but, in the end, a boxing analogy was probably more appropriate. Like a promising but impressionable young fighter desperate to break new ground, Japan took encouragement from sticking their opponent on the canvas early on but ultimately found themselves ground down over 12 rounds by a wily old stager used to going the distance and with a knack for getting over the line.

Croatia had come from behind on three occasions in the knockout rounds to reach the final of the World Cup four years ago. In the last 16 and quarter-finals, they had needed penalties to edge past Denmark and Russia respectively and then, in the semi-final, they squeezed past England in extra time. In fact, eight of Croatia’s past nine knockout round ties at major tournaments have not been settled in normal time.

So Japan, it is fair to say, were up against a team that have been around the block a few times and, in an anti-climatic penalty shoot-out, the pressure finally got to them. This was Japan’s seventh appearance at a World Cup but it did not prove seventh time lucky, the Samurai Blue falling at the last-16 stage for the fourth time in the past six tournaments. Alas, they could not add Croatia to the scalps of Germany and Spain.

Trailing to Daizen Maeda’s 43rd minute goal, Croatia showed all of their experience and know-how to drag themselves level through Ivan Perisic’s fine header and let Japan punch themselves out and, in Dominik Livakovic, found a natural heir to Danijel Subasic’s crown. Subasic made three shoot-out saves in that victory over Denmark in 2018 and Livakovic repeated the trick here, denying Takumi Minamino, Kaoru Mitoma and Maya Yoshida to become his country’s hero. Zlatko Dalic was unable to call upon Luka Modric, Perisic or Mateo Kovacic, all of whom had been substituted, but Livakovic did most of the heavy lifting and Mario Pasalic made no mistake with the winning spot-kick.

Dominik Livakovic saved three penalties in the shootout - AP
Dominik Livakovic saved three penalties in the shootout - AP
Livakovic is immediately flanked by his team-mates after the result is confirmed - SHUTTERSTOCK
Livakovic is immediately flanked by his team-mates after the result is confirmed - SHUTTERSTOCK

“We had a great goalkeeper today, he was insurmountable and did a great job with the penalties,” Dalic said. “Yesterday we practised penalties in training and he saved several of them so I was very self assured. He instilled that confidence in me and I was sure he would demonstrate it in the shootout. We had a lot of our main penalty takers out but all our fears and dilemma were resolved by Dominik. He proved to be like Subasic in Russia. History keeps repeating itself.”

Japan have failed to progress beyond the last 16 in all four World Cup appearances - GETTY IMAGES/JULIAN FINNEY
Japan have failed to progress beyond the last 16 in all four World Cup appearances - GETTY IMAGES/JULIAN FINNEY
Their exit came after group stage wins over Germany and Spain - AP
Their exit came after group stage wins over Germany and Spain - AP

With the exception of their solitary scorer, all three of Japan’s efforts were pretty lousy but Hajime Moriyasu denied that the pressure had got to his players. “Whether we succumbed to pressure, I don’t think so,” the Japan coach said. “I think the goalkeeper was great.”

Having got out of jail early on when Tottenham’s Perisic pounced on a mistake by Arsenal’s Takehiro Tomiyasu, only for the Croatia forward to be denied by a smart save, Japan were excellent in the first half. They switched effortlessly between aggressive pressing, the tone set from the front by Maeda, and swift counter-attacks and fully merited their interval lead. Five menacing crosses into Croatia’s six yard box had yielded nothing until, finally, from a well worked corner routine, Ritsu Doan swung in a devilish ball. Shogo Taniguchi got a faint touch and Yoshida, on the far side, squared for Maeda to sweep home a smart finish.

There was much to admire about Japan: the hard running of Maeda, the pace and trickery of Junya Ito down the right, the industry of Wataru Endo, the craft of Doan - scorer of goals against Spain and Germany - and of course the cool and calm of the regal Daichi Kamada.

Japan have certainly enriched this competition but there never seemed much chance of them being able to maintain that sort of pace and, the longer the game wore on, the better Croatia were able to manage it. The equaliser came at a bad time for Japan and out of nothing really. Dejan Lovren did a passable impression of Trent Alexander-Arnold, his former Liverpool team-mate, with a stupendous cross from deep that was met with a similarly sublime header from Perisic, who had manoeuvred his way between two blue shirts. Croatia are not the prettiest team to watch but they do not go away easily and, once the game entered extra-time and then went to penalties, there only felt like being one winner.

“This generation is resilient, they don’t give up, they are believers and reflect the spirit of the Croatian people,” Dalic said. “We have been through so much pain so the national team is a source of great pride for all Croatians. This is our way of encouraging them and giving them faith in a better tomorrow.”

Match details

Japan (5-4-1): Gonda 6; Ito 7, Tomiyasu 6, Yoshida 7, Taniguchi 6, Nagatomo 6 (Mitoma 64); Doan 7 (Minamino 87), Endo 7, Morita 6 (Tanaka 106), Kamada 7 (Sakai 75); Maeda 7 (Asano 64). 
Goals: Maeda (43).

Croatia (4-3-3): Livakovic 8; Juranovic 6, Lovren 7, Gvardiol 7, Barisic 6; Modric 6 (Majer 99), Brozovic 7, Kovacic 6 (Vlasic 99); Kramaric 6 (Pasalic 68), Petkovic 6 (Budimir 62; Livaja 106), Perisic 7 (Orsic 106). Booked: Kovacic, Barisic.
Goals: Perisic (55).

Referee: Ismail Elfath (United States).
Attendance: 42,523.

Japan 1 Croatia 1 AET (Croatia win 3-1 on penalties): how match happened

06:27 PM

Poor lad

A photo that brings to mind Eddie Waring's famous words of consolation for Don Fox. Poor Takumi Minamino. He has taken his failure to convert the first penalty badly:

Minamino cries - ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images
Minamino cries - ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images

06:15 PM

Brazil or South Korea for Croatia

In the first of the quarter-finals at 4pm on Friday. Croatia have won both their previous World Cup quarters, beating the European champions Germany 3-0 in 1998 in Lyon, and last time out defeating hosts Russia on penalties in Sochi.

05:55 PM

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05:55 PM

Triumph and despair

Croatia players celebrate after winning the penalty shootout as Japan players look dejected - REUTERS/Lee Smith
Croatia players celebrate after winning the penalty shootout as Japan players look dejected - REUTERS/Lee Smith

05:45 PM

Croatia beat 3-1 Japan on penalties (1-1 aet)

Very disappointing from the Japanese guys. They only managed to score one of their four penalties. Hats off to Livakovic in goal. He saved three penalties and he deserves his moment of glory.

That's the fourth time Japan has lost in the last 16. Not sure if that was weighing on minds but those were some very poor penalties.

Takumi Minamino, Kaoru Mitoma and  Maya Yoshida are the unfortunate fellows who will be in a Japanese Pizza Hut advert soon. All three of them went for the newfangled sloooooow run up where you hope to guess the goalie's intention. Mitoma's was pretty well saved actually on second look but the others were rubbish efforts. Still, easy to say sitting here, isn't it? One can only imagine the pressure they must be under.

"That walk from the halfway line is the longest you will ever take," says Alan Shearer on the BBC.

"Well, the second longest - the longest is if you miss!" says Gary Lineker. I'm sure that is true.

Takumi Minamino reacts after he missed - AFP
Takumi Minamino reacts after he missed - AFP

I think I will leave it there because attention now turns to the Brazil game. Well done Croatia, hard lines Japan. Cheers for following.

05:43 PM

Japan 1 Croatia 3

If this goes in, it's all over.

Pasalic steps up and tucks it away confidently. That's it! Three pens to one and Croatia win it.

05:42 PM

Japan 1 Croatia 2

Yoshida now. He has a chance to keep his side in it. NO! Another safe. Poor strike, soft, never looked confident.

Japan are one from four.....

05:42 PM

Japan 1 Croatia 2

Livaja. Stuttering, dodgy run up. Low, but weak, and saved. Japan hopes rekindle!

05:41 PM

Japan 1 Croatia 2

Asano runs up, much more confident. Tucks it away. Japan are on the board.

05:40 PM

Japan 0 Croatia 2

Brozovic steps up. Confident. Slaps it down the middle. Two nil and the Croatians have clear water.

05:39 PM

Japan 0 Croatia 1

Mitoma now. Oh no. Another save. Soft, soft penalty.

05:39 PM

Japan 0 Croatia 1

Vlasic lashes it into the corner.

05:38 PM

Japan 0 Croatia 0

Minamino, once of Liverpool, with the first one. It is poor. It is saved. Oh dear. To the keeper's left but central and soft.

Dominik Livakovic of Croatia saves the first penalty from Takumi Minamino - Alex Grimm/Getty Images
Dominik Livakovic of Croatia saves the first penalty from Takumi Minamino - Alex Grimm/Getty Images

05:37 PM

The keepers embrace

and wish each other luck. Nice moment. Well, I assume they wish each other luck. They might be saying something absolutely vile to each other.

It looks like the Japan side will shoot first.

The fans behind the goal are Japanese.

05:36 PM

So tense

I'm not sure either side can say they deserve to lose or win this.

Here are some handy tips....

How to win a penalty shootout, according to science

05:33 PM

Full time: Japan 1 Croatia 1

It goes to penalties. Croatia got through two penalty shootouts in the last World Cup. They are the side with the institutional memory, but few of those on the pitch actually struck a penalty in that. Only Brozovic, in fact.

05:33 PM

120+ mins: Japan 1 Croatia 1

All Croatia in these final minutes. Brozovic brings it, they lose it... the game scrappy, chaotic, a scramble and suddenly Majer has emerged with the ball! Surges forward! Strikes it..... oooooooh. Wide.

05:32 PM

118 mins: Japan 1 Croatia 1

I don't think I could bear it for either side if they were to let one in now. Croatia are the side with the ball. They cross it and it has beaned poor old Ao Tanaka on the edge of the area. Dearie me. He stays down for a bit.

He is okay.

05:28 PM

116 mins: Japan 1 Croatia 1

Barisic chops down Ito and goes in the book. And the Rangers man appears to have got cramp in the process. Oh dear.

05:28 PM

115 mins: Japan 1 Croatia 1

Bum header from a Croatian back briefly ignites the interest of the Japanese 9, Mitoma, but Croatia have enough big lads back to tidy it up.

05:26 PM

113 mins: Japan 1 Croatia 1

Croatia have a long throw. They put the keeper under pressure in the old fashioned way but Japan stand firm.

05:23 PM

111 mins: Japan 1 Croatia 1

Be remiss of me not to credit the BBC for this: "Of the Croatian players currently on the field, only Marcelo Brozovic took a penalty in a shootout at the 2018 World Cup. He scored his penalty against Russia."

Well there you have it.

And in the meantime, Croatia have a corner.

Well handled by Japan's impressive keeper.

05:22 PM

110 mins: Japan 1 Croatia 1

Mislav Orsic and Marko Livaja are coming on. Ivan Perisic and Ante Budimir, who was himself a sub, coming off. They have not upped the ante.

Croatia seem to be taking a lot of blokes off who you'd expect to take a pen?

05:18 PM

106 mins: Japan 1 Croatia 1

Modric seems to be giving the team talk. Coach will have some tough questions to answer if they don't go through from here you fancy.

Let's get back at it.

Japan have the ball.

05:15 PM

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05:15 PM

HT in ET: Japan 1 Croatia 1

Quiet in the first ten minutes there and then both sides had good moments.

05:15 PM

HT in ET: Japan 1 Croatia 1

Quiet in the first ten minutes there and then both sides had good moments.

05:13 PM

104 mins: Japan 1 Croatia 1

Oh Japan! Was that the moment? They were pinned back but broke. Mitoma with a solo run from deep in his own half, they back off him.... he cracks a shot from range! Saved. Japan win a corner.

They play it in and Croatia are desperate in defence.

05:11 PM

103 mins: Japan 1 Croatia 1

Asano with an awful back header - and he is very grateful to his colleague Mitoma for tidying up there.

05:09 PM

101 mins: Japan 1 Croatia 1

Croatia have a throw. Nothing comes of it.

I feel that both sides are hanging on for pens. Croatia would trust their big tournament nerves. Japan I guess figure that pens would be 50-50 and so that would be okay situation to be in as an underdog.

05:06 PM

97 mins: Japan 1 Croatia 1

ET has not quite got going yet. Another injury, this time to a Japanese player.

Croatia are making a double sub. Modric is going off! Gives the armband to Perisic. Majer on.

Kovacic, booked already, comes off for Vlasic.

Croatia's Luka Modric alongside teammate Ivan Perisic as he is substituted off - REUTERS
Croatia's Luka Modric alongside teammate Ivan Perisic as he is substituted off - REUTERS

Jermaine Jenas on BBC commentary: "Modric is getting a lovely reception as he comes off the pitch. It has not been his best evening but he is hugely respected in this stadium, he is a world class player."

05:03 PM

95 mins: Japan 1 Croatia 1

Japan the side making the running without quite finding the ball to set up a proper chance.

They stick it in the Croatian box and there is a clash of heads between Tomiyasu and Pasilic. Both are okay.

04:59 PM

93 mins: Japan 1 Croatia 1

Taniguchi tries a diving flick header at the near post. Extremely high difficulty, low chance of success and it's well wide.

04:59 PM

91 mins: Japan 1 Croatia 1

Japan the first to show in extra time and they have themselves a corner. Ito to take.

xtra
xtra

04:58 PM

Ref is a jolly sort

All smiles and laughter as he does the coin toss. Ismail Elfath  of the USA. A Texan no less, it sez ere. Anyhow. Let's get to it!

04:53 PM

End of normal time: Japan 1 Croatia 1

Extra time. First time in the tournament. Who do you fancy?

04:52 PM

90+4 mins: Japan 1 Croatia 1

Japan are dominating extra time but they are not really hurting Croatia -- and that is going to be the end of 90 minutes.

04:51 PM

90 mins: Japan 1 Croatia 1

There will be four minutes added on.

Mitoma gets on to a long ball. It's the Japanese who are on the front foot in the first minutes of extras.

04:48 PM

90 mins: Japan 1 Croatia 1

First booking. Kovacic deserved it for that wild sliding tackle. Capped 87 times and he's only 28. They really do have a settled line up. Junya Ito was his victim by the way.

04:45 PM

87 mins: Japan 1 Croatia 1

Takumi Minamino is coming on for Ritsu Doan. Used to play for Liverpool.

04:45 PM

86 mins: Japan 1 Croatia 1

Perisic with a splendid cross and the big forward Pasalic gets up above a couple of Japanese defenders and glances a header just wide. Ooof. Steady on, Japan.

04:43 PM

84 mins: Japan 1 Croatia 1

In terms of quality and indeed entertaining football, this has come off a level in the last five. But / because the tension is palpable.

04:39 PM

79 mins: Japan 1 Croatia 1

Brozovic in junkyard dog mode as he hunts down and fouls an opponent.

Mitoma slips a ball in and Tomiyasu has a glorious chance. But the full back has got a nose bleed up in that part of the pitch and incorrectly opts to square it rather than tucking the chance away. Big moment!

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04:36 PM

77 mins: Japan 1 Croatia 1

Persic surges forward and lets one rip. Must have taken a deflection on the way through. Corner is a dangerous one and it's all h to the p for Japan. Vital intervention from Doan just as Barisic was looking to stab it home.

04:34 PM

76 mins: Japan 1 Croatia 1

A good match so far, probably the best of the round and it's been 9 shots each, and 3 on target each so you cannot say fairer than that. Satisfying contrast of styles.

Kamada orf; H Sakai is on.

04:32 PM

73 mins: Japan 1 Croatia 1

The raft of changes. Pasalic on for Kramaric.

04:31 PM

72 mins: Japan 1 Croatia 1

Modric with a corner, they try something from the training ground. It would have been best left there.

04:30 PM

69 mins: Japan 1 Croatia 1

I fear for Japan here. Croatia have woken up after a nice nap and are having their say.

04:25 PM

66 mins: Japan 1 Croatia 1

Oh it should be 2. Cross comes in, the Croatian forward Budimir is unmarked in the area and he has nodded it wide under little pressure from 7 yards. You will not get an easier chance. Andrej Kramaric went for a cross-shot effort that took a deflection and ended up being a perfect ball to Ante Budimir, who has only been on as a sub for a few minutes. Maybe not into the game yet. But what a chance.

Excellent match this.

04:24 PM

65 mins: Japan 1 Croatia 1

Ivan Perisic now has 33 goals for Croatia, taking him level with Mario Mandzukic. Suker, on 45, still peerless.

04:22 PM

64 mins: Japan 1 Croatia 1

Japan need to change this up because the momentum seems to be shifting towards the Croatians. Asano and Mitoma come on for Nagatomo and Maeda

04:21 PM

63 mins: Japan 1 Croatia 1

Modric hasn't had a massive say so far but the wee man picks it up here, has a look, and smacks it at the goal with his right. Lovren again making a contribution with his range of passing.

Japan's Shuichi Gonda saves from Modric - Reuters
Japan's Shuichi Gonda saves from Modric - Reuters

04:20 PM

61 mins: Japan 1 Croatia 1

Petkovic is getting the hook, he's not impressed. Budimir, another big rangy sort up front, comes on as a direct replacement.

04:19 PM

60 mins: Japan 1 Croatia 1

End-to-end stuff as Doan holds off Barisic to get a shot in on goal but not with any power.

04:17 PM

58 mins: Japan 1 Croatia 1

And now a great move from Croatia has the Japanese defence scrambling.

Here is the despairing dive of Japan's Shuichi Gonda for the goal - Reuters
Here is the despairing dive of Japan's Shuichi Gonda for the goal - Reuters

04:16 PM

57 mins: Japan 1 Croatia 1

Game has exploded into live. A ferocious dipping shot from range is tipped over by the Croatia keeper. Wataru Endo the man who hit it, Dominik Livakovic the man with the acrobatic save.

04:14 PM

GOAL! Japan 1 Croatia 1 (Perisic 55)

What a cross and what a header and the Croatians are back in business. They have a wee spell of the ball, it is Lovren who delivers a splendid diagonal ball from deep but this is all about the magnificent header from Perisic. Rises above all and has powered home a header from 15 yards or so. You will not see a better header than that. That's his sixth goal in World Cups.

 Ivan Perisic of Croatia - Getty Images Europe
Ivan Perisic of Croatia - Getty Images Europe

04:12 PM

54 mins: Japan 1 Croatia 0

But Japan it is who have a corner. Repelled with some authority.

04:12 PM

53 mins: Japan 1 Croatia 0

Signs that Croatia are waking up I would say.

04:10 PM

51 mins: Japan 1 Croatia 0

The referee from Austin Texas stands firm as Croatia badger him for a foul when they hoof the ball into the Japan area. Taniguchi and Petkovic are having a bit of a cuddle but hard to call that as a penno.

04:08 PM

48 mins: Japan 1 Croatia 0

It is another bright move from Japan. Morita tries his luck with a snap-shot from the edge of the box but he has slipped as he strikes it.

That followed an iffy back header from Lovren that attracted the interest of Maeda.

04:04 PM

46 mins: Japan 1 Croatia 0

Japan are out of the blocks much the quicker and Kamada is tearing forward while the old boys in the Croatia midfield are still digesting their half-time Bath Oliver and milky tea. Lashes a shot over.

03:55 PM

Here is Sam Dean's half-time take

Our man in the stadium writes: "If the group stages proved Japan to be a courageous and resilient side, then this first half has shown that they are also an excellent footballing team. They have had some shaky moments but when they have found their passing rhythm they have been too quick and too slick for Croatia. Especially in midfield. Japan deserve their lead."

03:52 PM

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03:50 PM

Half time: Japan 1 Croatia 0

Really excellent work from the side who began this as second favourites. Croatia's experienced midfield look not just experienced but a bit ancient and doddery. One can relate.

Japan's Daizen Maeda scores - Reuters
Japan's Daizen Maeda scores - Reuters

If Japan had been a tiny bit sharper in front of goal they might have had more than one. But no question that the better team is ahead. Japan very good and busy without the ball, too.

03:48 PM

45+2 mins: Japan 1 Croatia 0

Danger here though when the Croatians have a corner and Lovren is lurking ominously under a high ball. But Japan just do enough and that will be the half.

03:46 PM

44 mins: Japan 1 Croatia 0

There are only two minutes of extra time (Shurely shome mishtake?) but Japan consolidate things nicely by largely holding on to the ball.

03:45 PM

GOAL! Japan 1 Croatia 0 (Maeda 43)

Japan take the corner short. Doan with a wonderful ball in. Yoshida keeps it alive... and Maeda of Celtic has bundled it in! Well done son. Brilliant and they deserve it.

Joy for Japan - REUTERS/John Sibley
Joy for Japan - REUTERS/John Sibley

03:43 PM

42 mins: Japan 0 Croatia 0

Super cross in from the right. Livakovic is a wee bit slow to come out and Juranovic has to intervene. He heads it out of his keeper's arms.

That leads to a corner.

Which soon leads to another corner.

03:42 PM

40 mins: Japan 0 Croatia 0

Here is Modric though with a chance to deliver a freekick in. Easily dealt with by Japan.

The Japan guys break, Ito with some serious wheels. He feeds it to Maeda who cannot get the shot in.... Moves stays alive thanks to good work from Endo, slips it to Kamada. Oh dear that's a terrible shot.

Japan are a striker away from being a proper outfit.

03:39 PM

The Modfather

yet to fully dominate.

Luka Modric of Croatia - Abir Sultan/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
Luka Modric of Croatia - Abir Sultan/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

03:38 PM

37 mins: Japan 0 Croatia 0

Well matched, even contest so far. Japan slightly overperforming and Croatia maybe a tiny bit off it.

03:35 PM

33 mins: Japan 0 Croatia 0

Nice football from Japan. Clever, quick passing. Doan slips it through to Maeda but he cannot control and the move breaks down. Excellent football until then, though.

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03:33 PM

30 mins: Japan 0 Croatia 0

Croatia having a long spell with the ball.

03:29 PM

27 mins: Japan 0 Croatia 0

That's the better side of Barisic's game, getting down the left flank well. And a decent ball in, headed on by Perisic. Kramaric cannot quite apply the finish at the back post but that was a nervy moment for the Japan defence.

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03:28 PM

25 mins: Japan 0 Croatia 0

Doan brings down Josko Gvardiol with a heavy challenge. Payback for a few minutes ago. Freekick comes in and Gvardiol himself blooters a terrible shot miles over.

03:26 PM

23 mins: Japan 0 Croatia 0

Quarter of the way through regulation time and I would say that the Japan coach will be the happier.

03:24 PM

20 mins: Japan 0 Croatia 0

Ito is having a good game. Getting down the flank and causing Barisic plenty problems. Barisic is a decent attacking full back and poor defensively.

03:18 PM

17 mins: Japan 0 Croatia 0

Gvardiol has put a reducer in on Doan. Croatia deal well with the freekick.

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03:18 PM

15 mins: Japan 0 Croatia 0

But when they do get the ball, Japan are impressing. Nagatomo with a super cross. Maeda up for the header but no clean contact.

03:14 PM

12 mins: Japan 0 Croatia 0

Game has settled. Croatia having the lion's share of the ball; Japan very good without it.

Ito with a lovely cross, low, accurate. Maeda with a great run but cannot get there. And nor can Nagatomo arriving at the back post. So close. What a ball that was.

03:10 PM

9 mins: Japan 0 Croatia 0

Tomiyasu has made a horrid blunder. Long hoof by the Croatia keeper, Perisic tries to get it, Tomiyasu gets in a terrible muddle and Perisic is through! He is one on one with the keeper, albeit from a narrow angle. Almost has too much time, ends up taking the wrong option by trying to chip it into the far corner and Japan just about survive.

Each side has had a big let-off.

Perisic should have scored - Getty
Perisic should have scored - Getty

03:08 PM

5 mins: Japan 0 Croatia 0

Japan are at it. Really bright and busy start from them. Dominik Livakovic, the Croatia keeper, dallies on the ball and is nearly closed down/mugged.

03:05 PM

3 mins: Japan 0 Croatia 0

Junya Ito takes the corner short to Wataru Endo, he crosses early. Shogo Taniguchi! Oooh no, he has headed wide from barely six yards out. Massive chance.

Japan's Daizen Maeda and Shogo Taniguchi react after that miss - Reuters
Japan's Daizen Maeda and Shogo Taniguchi react after that miss - Reuters

03:02 PM

2 mins: Japan 0 Croatia 0

It's a dangerous ball in. Croatia seem to be playing a very high line and there is a faint touch behind for a corner. Decent ball in from Doan.

03:02 PM

1 mins: Japan 0 Croatia 0

It's the European side who kick us off. There is an early foul by Croatia though and Japan have a chance to stick in it in the mixer.

03:00 PM

Three Old Firm

players on the pitch! Not bad for the Glasgow giants.

Daizen Maeda of Celtic up front for Japan. And Croatia have both fullbacks resident in Glasgow: Barisic plays for Rangers and Juranovic for Celtic.

02:58 PM

Here we go then

Japan: Shuichi Gonda, Shogo Taniguchi, Takehiro Tomiyasu, Maya Yoshida, Yuto Nagatomo, Wataru Endo, Ritsu Doan, Hidemasa Morita, Junya Ito, Daichi Kamada, Daizen Maeda

Croatia: Dominik Livakovic, Borna Barisic, Ivan Perisic, Dejan Lovren, Mateo Kovacic, Andrej Kramaric, Luka Modric, Marcelo Brozovic, Bruno Petkovic, Josko Gvardiol, Josip Juranovic

02:57 PM

Now Croatia

Stirring and heartfelt too, considerably more cutlery in this one. The person playing the crash cymbals is getting a good work out.

Impossible to separate these two and we've awarded both anthems six thousand points.

02:56 PM

Anthems!

The splendid, soulful, stately Japanese one first.  Coach is giving it plenty.

02:55 PM

Atmos

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02:52 PM

Our man at the ground

Sam Dean: "Japan have been the great disruptors of this tournament, beating both Spain and Germany but also losing, somehow, to a dreadful Costa Rica side. They are a cracking smash-and-grab team, defeating Spain with just 18 per cent of possession and Germany with only 26 per cent. Watch out for their supersubs, too... especially Brighton winger Kaoru Mitoma. He's a lot of fun."

02:46 PM

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02:44 PM

There are

about 15 minutes until kick off.

02:44 PM

What is your match prediction?

Who do you fancy in Japan vs Croatia?

02:42 PM

Three changes for Japan

Japan coach Hajime Moriyasu brought Takehiro Tomiyasu into his defence in place of the suspended Ko Itakura as one of three changes to his side for the World Cup last-16 game against Croatia on Monday.

Itakura received a second yellow card of the tournament in Japan's stunning upset of Spain in their final group match, so Tomiyasu, who has made two appearances off the bench as he struggles to shake off an injury, starts.

Moriyasu also brought Wataru Endo and Ritsu Doan back into his midfield at the expense of Takefusa Kubo and Ao Tanaka, who scored against Spain.

Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic made two changes to his largely settled starting line-up, bringing in Borna Barisic for Borna Sosa at left back and Bruno Petkovic for Marko Livaja in midfield.

Japan: Shuichi Gonda, Shogo Taniguchi, Takehiro Tomiyasu, Maya Yoshida, Yuto Nagatomo, Wataru Endo, Ritsu Doan, Hidemasa Morita, Junya Ito, Daichi Kamada, Daizen Maeda

Croatia: Dominik Livakovic, Borna Barisic, Ivan Perisic, Dejan Lovren, Mateo Kovacic, Andrej Kramaric, Luka Modric, Marcelo Brozovic, Bruno Petkovic, Josko Gvardiol, Josip Juranovic

02:40 PM

Quite an outfit

A Japan supporter at the Al-Janoub Stadium in Al-Wakrah - AFP
A Japan supporter at the Al-Janoub Stadium in Al-Wakrah - AFP

02:37 PM

Fans

Young Croatia fan at the Al-Janoub Stadium in Al-Wakrah - AFP
Young Croatia fan at the Al-Janoub Stadium in Al-Wakrah - AFP

02:35 PM

Fans

Fan with fan - Getty
Fan with fan - Getty

02:34 PM

Al-Janoub Stadium at Al Wakrah

This is the last game that will be hosted at the stadium before they reduce its capacity by half.

A general view of the Al Wakrah stadium - Getty
A general view of the Al Wakrah stadium - Getty

02:30 PM

BBC coverage incoming

Wonder who will be in the chair?

It's Gary! Begins with a nice intro in Japanese, I cannot tell you how gramatically correct or well-pronounced it was, but then I didn't play for Nagoya Grampus Eight, did I??

02:26 PM

Japanese guys saluting their fans

Japan players warm up - Getty
Japan players warm up - Getty

02:24 PM

A low-scoring draw

in 90 minutes at 9/4 seems like a possible to me. Fancy the Croatians to edge it with their superior nous as the Japanese lads run out of puff with their all action pressing game.

But nobody really knows anything, do they? Probably be 8-2 or something.

02:13 PM

Japan vs Croatia

then. Where is your money? On pedigree you'd obviously have to go for the men in the red and white checks, but haven't Japan been splendid so far? That press they did against Spain to harass and dispossess them for one of the goals was as good as anything you'll ever see.

Croatia are even money to win in 90 minutes, which seems a bit slim to me, for a side who have had two nil-nils in the tournament so far.

02:01 PM

Changes for both sides

Japan have brought Takehiro Tomiyasu into their defence in place of the suspended Ko Itakura as one of three changes.

Itakura received a second yellow card of the tournament in Japan's stunning upset of Spain in their final group match, so Tomiyasu, who has made two appearances off the bench as he struggles to shake off an injury, starts.

Japan manager Moriyasu has also brought Wataru Endo and Ritsu Doan back into his midfield at the expense of Takefusa Kubo and Ao Tanaka, who scored against Spain.

Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic has made two changes to his largely settled starting line-up, bringing in Borna Barisic for Borna Sosa at left back and Bruno Petkovic for Marko Livaja in midfield.

01:49 PM

The team news

Japan: Gonda; Taniguchi, Tomiyasu, Yoshida, Nagatomo; Morita, Endo; J. Ito, Kamada, Dōan; Maeda

Croatia: Livaković; Juranović, Lovren, Gvardiola, Sosa; Brozović, Modrić, Kovačić; Kramarić, Peršić, Petković

01:46 PM

Japan want to rally 'Samurai spirit'

Will we see the sharp and direct Japan who ripped through Spain and Germany with storming second halves or the team who underwhelmed massively against Costa Rica?

The face Croatia this afternoon with a place in the World Cup quarter-finals at stake, with Japan having never previously reached the last eight of the competition. Four years ago in Russia, Japan led Belgium 2-0 in a last-16 tie, but were eliminated 3-2 on a goal scored late in second-half stoppage time.

"I have never forgotten," said defender Yuto Nagatomo, before switching to the subject of Japanese samurai warriors as a metaphor for Japan's World Cup campaign.

"They try to improve their techniques," he said. "But if they are scared during the battle they will not be able to use their weapons and techniques fully."

Japan coach Hajime Moriyasu said the loss to Belgium was a valuable lesson for his team.

"That experience was very precious and we can reflect on what we learned in that match with Belgium," he said.

Croatia have grown into the tournament after a slow start, although they perhaps have Romelu Lukaku's exhibition of poor finishing to thank for reaching this stage.

Real Madrid midfielder Luka Modric, the world player of the year in 2018, remains the heartbeat of a team whose experienced midfield is typically a match for any opponent but which still lacks a prolific scorer up front. Each game the 37-year-old Modric plays from now on could be his last at a World Cup.

"The population of Croatia is 4 million and the results we have achieved on the world stage are miraculous," said Zlatko Dalic, whose nation were runners-up at the last World Cup and are unbeaten in three games in Qatar.

"We are continually present in tournaments and World Cups, and that itself is a great success. We have become a world football force."

The winner faces either five-time champion Brazil or South Korea in the next round, with that game taking place tonight.

Full team news on the way shortly.