Monday’s pair of round of 16 games saw two teams from the 2018 quarter-finals secure a ticket to that round of 2022. However, as Japan pushed Croatia to the brink, Brazil cruised along in what was a lavish World Cup for the fifth time been. champions.
For South Korea and Japan, it is a hard exit for two of the three Asian teams to reach the knockout stage. Along with Australia, this is the first time three teams from AFC have reached the knockout stages of the same tournament. Japan will regret its inability to convert from the penalty spot. South Korea was simply surpassed by arguably the most talented team at the World Cup
Brazil and Croatia place a ticket for the quarter-finals of the World Cup
Starting with the first game of the day, Japan went into the game full of confidence. Victories over Germany and Spain had Japan as a sneaky contender to inflict some major setbacks. However, it was the usual suspects for Croatia that kept the 2018 runner-up in Qatar on track.
Celtic winger Daizen Maeda opened the scoring just before half-time after a goal-foot scramble which Maeda put away. Then, 10 minutes after the break, Ivan Perišić, who scored in the 2018 Final, leveled the game. At risk of falling behind, neither team pushed too far into the 90. In addition, these teams went through 120 minutes without a decider.
Croatian manager Zlatko Dalić pulled off Luka Modrić, Andrej Kramarić, Mateo Kovačić and the aforementioned Perišić in the 120 minutes. Therefore, it pressured the lesser-known Croats to answer the call. It was goalkeeper Dominik Livaković who emerged as a hero.
Livaković, who plays for Dinamo Zagreb, saved three of Japan’s four penalty kicks. On the other hand, Shūichi Gonda could only hold off one penalty from Croatia.
With the win, Croatia is through to the quarter-finals. Remarkably, this is Croatia’s third victory on penalties in the last two World Cups. In fact, in 2018 Croatia won twice on penalties and needed stoppage time in the semi-final against England.
Croatia will now face Brazil in the quarter-finals of the World Cup.
Brazil shows nothing but talent in victory
While Croatia and Japan went the distance, Brazil took South Korea in the first 45 minutes. Before the two teams played half an hour, the five-time world champions had a three-goal tie. Vinicius Jr. opened the goal fest in the first half with a clinical and calm finish in the far corner.
Then it was Neymar who scored the second. The PSG star missed the previous two games with an ankle injury. Still, he looked fine against South Korea. He covered the South Korean goalkeeper Kim Seung-gyu from the spot. Richarlison continued his fine form by adding Brazil’s third. Fittingly, it was the player’s third of the tournament. He leads the team. Finally, Lucas Paquetá came into action with Brazil’s fourth.
By halftime, the game was almost over. Still, that didn’t stop a South Korean party in the game. Paik Seung-ho scored the goal of the match from 25 yards out.
Admittedly, the shot deflected the Brazilian defense. But it gives South Korea something to take home with pride. Brazil would always be there a tough match for a South Korean team that came out of the group stage squeaky.
Brazil vs Croatia
This quarter-final will be the fifth all-time meeting between Brazil and Croatia, and it is the third at the World Cup. They met in the group stages of the 2006 and 2014 World Cups. Brazil won both times.
The most recent battle between the two was in 2018, an international friendly just before the World Cup. Brazil won that one too.
But despite dominating Croatia, Brazil has something of a bug with European opponents. Since defeating Germany in the 2002 World Cup Final, Brazil lost to the first European opponent it faced in the World Cup knockout rounds. As of 2018, these were Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and France. Croatia hopes to lose five times in a row to European opponents in the knockout phase.
The two will fight on Friday, December 9, with coverage on FOX and Telemundo at 10 a.m. ET.
PHOTO: IMAGO / Xinhua
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