Goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic was the hero, saving three penalties in the shootout, as Croatia edged past Japan after a 1-1 draw to reach the World Cup quarter-finals.
Livakovic kept out the first two efforts before stopping Maya Yoshida’s kick, then Mario Pasalic converted the vital effort to take his side through.
Zlatko Dalic’s side, beaten in the final by France four years ago, will face tournament favourites Brazil or South Korea in the next round on Friday (15:00 GMT).
Japan were the livelier side and took a deserved lead two minutes before half-time when Celtic forward Daizen Maeda converted from Yoshida’s knock down.
Croatia levelled in the second half courtesy of Ivan Perisic’s brilliant bullet header from Dejan Lovren’s cross, becoming his country’s all-time leading scorer at major tournaments with 10 goals.
Neither side could find a breakthrough and the game ticked into the additional 30 minutes, with Brighton midfielder Kaoru Mitoma’s spectacular strike pushed over by Livakovic.
At the other end, Marko Livaja’s flicked header looked to be looping in, but Shuichi Gonda managed to gather and Lovro Majer dragged a shot in the 120th minute.
The contest went to nerve-shredding penalties, where Livakovic emerged as the man to lead Croatia’s celebrations.
More to follow.
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- 13MoritaSubstituted forTanakaat 105′minutes
- 5NagatomoSubstituted forMitomaat 64′minutes
- 8DoanSubstituted forMinaminoat 87′minutes
- 25MaedaSubstituted forAsanoat 64′minutes
- 15KamadaSubstituted forH Sakaiat 75′minutes
- 19H Sakai
- 3BarisicBooked at 116mins
- 10ModricSubstituted forMajerat 99′minutes
- 8KovacicBooked at 90minsSubstituted forVlasicat 99′minutes
- 9KramaricSubstituted forPasalicat 68′minutes
- 16PetkovicSubstituted forBudimirat 62′minutesSubstituted forLivajaat 105′minutes
- 4PerisicSubstituted forOrsicat 105′minutes
- Ismail Elfath
Match ends, Japan 1(1), Croatia 1(3).
Penalty Shootout ends, Japan 1(1), Croatia 1(3).
Goal! Japan 1(1), Croatia 1(3). Mario Pasalic (Croatia) converts the penalty with a right footed shot to the bottom left corner.
Penalty saved! Maya Yoshida (Japan) fails to capitalise on this great opportunity, right footed shot saved in the bottom left corner.
Penalty missed! Still Japan 1(1), Croatia 1(2). Marko Livaja (Croatia) hits the left post with a right footed shot.
Goal! Japan 1(1), Croatia 1(2). Takuma Asano (Japan) converts the penalty with a right footed shot to the bottom right corner.
Goal! Japan 1, Croatia 1(2). Marcelo Brozovic (Croatia) converts the penalty with a right footed shot to the centre of the goal.
Penalty saved! Kaoru Mitoma (Japan) fails to capitalise on this great opportunity, right footed shot saved in the bottom left corner.
Goal! Japan 1, Croatia 1(1). Nikola Vlasic (Croatia) converts the penalty with a right footed shot to the bottom left corner.
Penalty saved! Takumi Minamino (Japan) fails to capitalise on this great opportunity, right footed shot saved in the centre of the goal.
Penalty Shootout begins Japan 1, Croatia 1.
Second Half Extra Time ends, Japan 1, Croatia 1.
Attempt missed. Lovro Majer (Croatia) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left. Assisted by Mislav Orsic.
Attempt blocked. Mislav Orsic (Croatia) right footed shot from the left side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Marcelo Brozovic.
Borna Barisic (Croatia) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Foul by Borna Barisic (Croatia).
Junya Ito (Japan) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Attempt saved. Marko Livaja (Croatia) header from the centre of the box is saved in the top centre of the goal. Assisted by Josip Juranovic.
Corner, Croatia. Conceded by Junya Ito.
Lovro Majer (Croatia) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
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