Painfully again, Japan exit the World Cup at knockout stage

Painfully again, Japan exit the World Cup at knockout stage
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Japan’s Maya Yoshida and teammates look dejected during the penalty shootout as Japan are eliminated from the World Cup REUTERS/Dylan Martinez
Al Janoub Stadium, Al Wakrah, Qatar

Poor Japan! Their captain, Maya Yoshida was in tears at the post match conference. “We did all we could, but we lost…I salute my teammates and  our supporters”

It was in similar painful way they exited the World Cup four years ago at the same Round of 16 when providence ensured that Belgium almost with the last kick of the ball eliminated the determined Japanese.

Again this time, they were on the driver’s seat, taking a deserved 1-0 lead at half time through Daizen Maeda.

But Croatia fought back gamely and levelled up through Ivan Perisic’s header, 10 minutes into the second half.

The game was stalemated at 1-1 at regulation and added time, leading into the first extra time of the tournament.

The match went on into penalty shoot-out. This is where Croatia’s goalkeeper, Dominic Livakovic’s heroics came into play.

He saved penalties from Takumi Minamino, Kaoru Mitoma and Maya Yoshida before Mario Pasalic netted the winning spot-kick in their 3-1 shootout win over Japan on Monday to reach the World Cup quarter-finals.

Croatia will face either Brazil or South Korea in the quarter-finals.

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