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Croatia return to quarter-finals by beating Japan on penalties

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At the end of the suspense, Croatia qualified for the quarter-finals, for the third time in its history. The “Vatreni” (the Flamboyants) used their experience against the brave Japanese, who played evenly throughout the match and could have reached the quarterfinals for the first time in their history. At the next stage, Croatia will find Brazil or South Korea on Friday at 4:00 p.m., who face each other on Monday evening (8:00 p.m.).

A decisive shot on goal by Andrej Kramaric allowed the Croats to win at the end of this undecided match, and coach Vlatko Dalic to breathe, at the al-Janoub Stadium in Doha. Dalic can also thank his goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic, who deflected three Japanese attempts during the penalty shootout.

Croatia shaken up

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The meeting had however started badly for Croatia, jostled by the intense pressing and the envy of the Japanese. It was the “Blue Samurai” who opened the scoring after several unsuccessful attempts, concretizing their domination.

After a cross from Ritsu Doan in the wake of a three-man corner, captain Maya Yoshida deflected the ball which Daizen Maeda, on the lookout, took over to open the scoring (43rd). Without the sword or the armor of the samurai but with speed, determination and courage, the Japanese then took the measure of their adversary.

As in 2018

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But Tottenham winger Ivan Perisic allowed his side to equalize with a well-placed cross header after a cross from central defender Dejan Lovren. Both holders during the epic at the 2018 World Cup, the former (33 years old) then showed the way, which Kramaric took, also in the team in Russia, by scoring the decisive shot on goal.

By its scenario, this victory is also very similar to the course of the Croats during the 2018 World Cup: they had beaten Denmark on penalties in the eighth, then Russia in the same way in the quarter before having the England in extra time in the semi-finals.

Modric transparent

Omnipotent in 2018, captain Luka Modric, expected, at 37, as the guide of the red and white checkered team for his last competition in the national team, did not weigh on the meeting. The Real Madrid midfielder was effectively muzzled in midfield by the Blue Samurai. He only freed himself from it on the hour mark, when he fired a nice half-volley diverted by Shuichi Gonda (63rd).

This victory at the end of the suspense allows the players of Dalic to maintain the hope of conquering the world title which eluded them in Russia. “We try, we had opportunities, I’m still an optimist, explained the coach before the match. There are 4 million Croats, and what we have achieved in recent years is a miracle.”

There was no miracle at the al-Janoub Stadium but a relief, and it will take more to dispose of the Brazilian ogre in the next round, if it eliminates the last Asian team still in contention, Korea from South.

Source: Europe1

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