Soccer-Livakovic goes on instinct as Croatia beat Japan on penalties


Soccer Football - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 - Round of 16 - Japan v Croatia - Al Janoub Stadium, Al Wakrah, Qatar - December 5, 2022 Japan's Daizen Maeda celebrates scoring their first goal with teammates as Croatia players look dejected REUTERS/Peter Cziborra

AL WAKRAH, Qatar (Reuters) - Croatia's goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic trusted his instincts as he pulled off three superb saves in their 3-1 penalty shootout victory over Japan to send his side through to the World Cup quarter-finals on Monday.

Livakovic's high-pressure heroics spared the blushes of team mate Marko Livaja, who missed his spot kick, to set up a clash with Brazil or South Korea, who meet later on Monday.

Takumi Minamino, Kaoru Mitoma and Maya Yoshida were all denied by Livakovic before Mario Pasalic coolly sent Japan keeper Shuichi Gonda the wrong way to set up a last-eight date.

"It's more an instinct than an analysis of the penalty takers ... I don't think that these penalties were too difficult to defend, (but) they shoot very hard," a beaming Livakovic told a news conference when asked about the secret of his success.

Japan took the lead just before the break when Daizen Maeda made the most of a well-worked short corner but Croatia levelled when Ivan Perisic headed home Dejan Lovren's pinpoint cross in the 55th minute and the game finished 1-1 after extra time.

Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic made the brave move of taking off Perisic and Luka Modric in extra time and it turned out they were not needed as his Livakovic's saves sent them through.

"We had a fantastic goalkeeper today, Livakovic, he was great, he was insurmountable, he defended the penalties in a very strong, stable manner," Dalic said.

Croatia won two shootouts en route to the 2018 final in Russia, but at the Al Janoub Stadium a new generation got to make their mark.

"We have 18 new players that weren't at the Russian World Cup and I told them today -- this is your chance to make history," Dalic said.

The 56-year-old said he would prefer to meet South Korea rather than Brazil in the last eight but that either way he was happy to have guided his team through the first knockout round.

"We will rest, and I think we have the right to believe and to hope, to nurture hope for great results. We have great quality and a great team, but this World Cup is full of great teams and great peers" he said.

"We'll see tomorrow where we stand, we will reflect on the situation, and we shall not surrender. We will keep on fighting, trying to achieve our dream of going further in the World Cup."

(Reporting by Philip O'Connor, editing by Ed Osmond)

Article type: free
User access status:
Subscribe now to our Premium Plan for an ad-free and unlimited reading experience!

   

Next In Football

Soccer-Premier League signs NFT deal with SoftBank-backed Sorare
Soccer-'Just the start', Australia coach Arnold to stay on until 2026
Soccer-Talking points from European soccer
Soccer-Real Madrid frustrated in goalless draw against Real Sociedad
Soccer-Late goal from Simeone gives Napoli 2-1 win over Roma
Soccer-PSG's poor run continues with Reims draw
Soccer-Lazio lose ground after 1-1 draw with Fiorentina
Soccer-Dortmund make it three out of three this year with 2-0 win over Leverkusen
Soccer-Brighton ready to move forward without Caicedo, says De Zerbi
Soccer-Liverpool need more improvement, says Klopp after FA Cup exit

Others Also Read