Japan 1 – 1 Croatia (after 30 mins extra time: Croatia win 3-1 on penalties)
(Round of 16, Al Janoub Stadium, 05/12/2022)
An interesting pairing here. Japan’s supporters are as eclectic and colourful as always, wearing fancy dress, samurai headbands and face paint, with Croatia supporters looking fairly serious and unamused!
A shaky start for Croatia, with Japan missing a couple of good chances but by the 5th minute, Croatia settled down.
Croatia were gifted an excellent chance via an error, which fell to Perisic, who couldn’t capitalise.
A fabulous move from Japan in the 12th minute resulted in a foul and a pretty harsh booking. Croatia couldn’t hold onto the ball for long though, with Japan looking lively.
Kovacic has seemed fairly anonymous so far, with Japan recovering possession easily in midfield at most opportunities, making Croatia look slow and cumbersome. It’s a long game though.
A rare chance for Croatia, whose star player, Gvadiol, fluffed.
Croatia starting to remember they’re a skilful team on 25 minutes with chances now starting to come. Both teams seem to be lacking a striker though, a problem is Chelsea supporters are used to. False 9s don’t work. The Croatia old guard of Modric and Perisic are giving it a good go though. It’s all Croatia right now.
Japan soon get hold of the game, passing the ball in triangles with ease until that gap appeared & then they ran into a wall.
Two evenly matched teams so far. Six minutes to go in the first half.
Japan finally took a well deserved lead on 43 minutes! A corner led to a penalty box scramble and Japan got some well deserved joy!
Croatia get a corner themselves at the end of the two minutes’ extra time and although well worked by Modric and Kovavic, it comes to nothing and it’s half time.
The second half started with a lively Japanese team attacking the Croatia goal. Croatia swiftly took the ball to the other end, where Kovacic saw a speculative shot go wide.
Croatia having a good spell now, around 50 minutes, and Kovacic had a penalty appeal waved away by the American referee.
When Japan break, they make Croatia look ponderous and sluggish, but as previously mentioned, they lack a prolific goal scorer so most of their good work comes to nothing.
Japan also lack commanding centre halves – Croatia scored a goal out of nothing on 55 minutes. Perisic was surrounded by three defenders and still managed to rise above them, heading the ball firmly into the net from 16 yards out.
The goal clearly gave Croatia confidence. Japan had a super shot well saved by the keeper and managed to thwart several decent Japanese chances by fair means or foul.
Modric produced a great dipping shot on goal in the 62nd minute, which produced a lovely save.
End to end shots on goal now, although none have breached the defences.
Good chance for Perisic, definitely Croatia’s best player, deflected wide by Tomiyasu.
11 minutes of the 90 to go…are we going to extra time?
Tomiyasu got a chance at the other end but instead of going for goal, hit it across the box which was easily cleared. A real defender’s move.
Kovacic booked on 89 minutes. He will need to be careful for the remainder of the match.
And so it’s going to extra time…
A fairly quiet start really. Tiredness will play a part here.
Kovacic and Modric depart the pitch after 8 minutes of extra time. I thought both were fairly anonymous today.
Great long range shot for Japan, which was saved but which leads to a corner. Ah some action! No goal though.
Half time in extra time – 15 minutes, then penalties.
Japan are showing some energy now, but it all comes to nothing.
And so to penalties, the first of this World Cup.
Kicks being taken at the Japanese supporters’ end and Japan kick first.
Ex Liverpool player Minamino gets his penalty saved. Croatia score theirs.
Japan’s second penalty is saved too. Japan aren’t taking these penalties well. Croatia blast them. 2-0 Croatia.
Finally…Asana scores for Japan. 2-1.
Croatia miss! A casual penalty which hits the post.
Japan’s captain misses his penalty. Poorly struck. Good save.
Croatia strike theirs and are through to the quarters.
Sayonara Japan – you’ve been great fun.
Posted by the CSG’s World Cup Willie