Brazil and Croatia booked their places for the FIFA World quarterfinals after they defeated their rivals on Monday in a contrasting fashion.
In case of Japan, the losing side against Croatia, it was a heartbreak as yet again failed to overcome the Round of 16 hurdle – making it fourth time when they exited the world’s premier sporting competition in the Round of 16.
However, the latest win means Croatia – the finalists at the last World Cup, means they have won their all three Round of 16 clashes in the tournament’s history.
On Friday, they will now meet Brazil, the football giants, in the third second quarterfinal of the FIFA World Cup being staged in Qatar.
The Japanese could only manage one goal in the penalty shootout as Dominik Livakovic, the Croatian goalkeeper, saved three shots to become a legend for his country.
During the process, Takimi Minamino, Kaoru Mitoma and Maya Yoshida were guilty of not scoring for Japan with Takuma Asano remaining successful in his attempt.
For Croatia, Marko Livaja hit the upright but Nikola Vlasic, Marcelo Brozovic and Mario Palasic beat the rival goalkeeper.
Earlier, there was nothing to differentiate between the two sides after 90 minutes of regular play and 30 minutes of extra time.
Although Croatia controlled the game, it was Japan who took the lead through Daizen Maeda in the 43rd minute. However, a brilliant header by seasoned Croatian star Ivan Perisic equalized the equation in the 55th minute on a pinpoint cross from the right flank.
Despite several attempts from both sides and thanks to some excellent saves by goalkeepers, the deadlock persisted which required the penalty shootout intervention to decide the winner.
Brail trounce South Korea
In the other encounter, Brazil ripped through South Korea with four first-half goals to secure a hugely impressive 4-1 victory.
They were ahead after seven minutes when Raphinha’s low cross reached Vinicius Jr and he expertly lifted the ball above the charging goalkeeper and three defenders.
Five minutes later it was 2-0 with a Neymar penalty and Richarlison added a brilliant third after a spell of juggling then a razor combination with Marquinhos and Thiago Silva that had Brazil’s delirious fans dancing and neutrals everywhere purring.
Lucas Paqueta volleyed in the fourth after 36 minutes and the five-times champions played the second half as an exhibition, denied more goals only by impressive Korean goalkeeper Kim Seung-gyu, as they turned their attention to Friday’s quarter-final meeting with Croatia.
Korea worked tirelessly and bravely to try to limit the damage and were rewarded for their own attacking efforts when Paik Seung-ho smashed in a brilliant long-range shot beyond Alisson 13 minutes from time.