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2022 World Cup Round of 16: Livakovic saves Croatia in penalties vs. Japan

Croatia Japan World Cup
Croatia’s goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic saves from Japan’s Maya Yoshida during a penalty shootout at the end of the World Cup round of 16 soccer match between Japan and Croatia at the Al Janoub Stadium in Al Wakrah, Qatar, Monday, Dec. 5, 2022. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein) (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

Dominik Livakovic saved three penalties to book Croatia’s trip to the World Cup quarterfinals in a shootout victory over Japan on Monday. 

A 1-1 draw needed extra time and, eventually, penalties to determine a winner while continuing Croatia’s sterling run at shootouts. They’ve won all three of their penalty kicks at the World Cup.

Japan’s blazing counter-attack was providing plenty of problems for Croatia, but it turned out to be a set piece that put the Blue Samurai ahead. 

Just two minutes from halftime, a short corner led to Ritsu Doan sending in a tantalizing cross that Maya Yoshida managed to get a head on it and sent it straight down where it lay in the middle of the box. Daizen Maeda beat everyone to the ball and finished with his left foot with ease.

Croatia found an equalizer in the 55th minute thanks to a sublime header from Ivan Perišić. The former Inter Milan star now at Tottenham boomed his chance on the left side of the box from 12 yards out perfectly into the bottom-right corner of the goal.

Perišić has been as invaluable to the Croatians as Luka Modrić as his latest contribution was the 10th time since the start of the 2014 World Cup that he was directly involved in a goal (6 goals, 4 assists). Only Argentina’s Lionel Messi (12) and France’s Kylian Mbappe (11) have contributed more during that span. 

Wataru Endo nearly found a blistering reply for Japan just two minutes after Perišić’s goal, but his long-distance shot that looked destined for the top-right corner was tipped over the bar acrobatically by Livakovic.

Japanese keeper Shuichi Gonda had to come up with a highlight-worthy save of his own in the 63rd minute when a brilliant volley from Modrić at nearly 30 yards out was parried over the bar.

Livakovic countered with a leaping save on a powerful Kaoru Mitoma effort — again from outside the box — in the 105th minute to keep things level and destined for penalties. 

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