Croatia came into this match having gone undefeated in group stage, but they were only able to finish second after defeating Canada 4-1 and pulling a 0-0 draw with Belgium and Morocco in Group F.
In their final group match against Belgium, Zlatko Dalic’s team faced pressure but held on to earn a crucial tie.
At the other end, Japan stunned the vast bulk of football fans by defeating both Germany and Spain 2-1 on their road to top Group E.
In the group stage, the Hajime Moriyasu team only surrendered once in each game while scoring four goals.
Both teams had a lot of enthusiasm when the game first started, but as the minutes passed and the speed of the game slowed down, Croatia finally took control.
Perisic had Croatia’s finest opportunity of the half, but due to a Tomiyasu error, he was unable to beat Gonda in close.
As the game came close to the interval, Japan gained some confidence and it paid off as Maeda capitalized to grab his first goal of the competition.
Doan sent a cross into the box after Japan took a short corner. Yoshida wins the opening header, and Maeda responds to the knockdown the fastest.
Yoshida did well enough to leap high and claim the first header from Doan’s cross. He heads the ball back into a risky area, and Maeda was the first to reach it, giving Japan the edge.
10 minutes into second half, Perisic gave Croatia the equalizer with a powerful header. Lovren’s cross into the box was mildly underhit but the Tottenham midfielder benefited from it and powerfully headed the ball into the bottom right corner.
The sole notable moment of the second half was Perisic’s equalizer, a thunderous header that Gonda was unable to stop.
With the exception of Mitoma’s deflected effort, extra time was uneventful and devoid of opportunities.
Asano was the only one to score in the penalty shootout after Livakovic stopped three of the four Japan penalties.
Croatia prevailed 3-1 in the shootout after Pasalic converted the game-winning penalty.