Johannesburg — Croatia qualified for the World Cup quarter-finals after beating Japan 3-1 on penalties after the game ended 1-1 after extra-time.
But that win wasn't easy to come by for Croatia as IOL Sport’s writer Mihlali Baleka gives us five takeaways from the clash at Al Janoub Stadium.
Perisic makes history
Ivan Perisic is one of the most experienced players in the Croatian national team, having played for some of the best teams in Europe.
But the Tottenham Hotspur attacker re-wrote the history books this evening, scoring his sixth goal in the World Cup for his national team.
Japan close to history
Japan had never qualified for the World Cup quarter-final. But they’ve been dark-horses in Qatar as they beat perennial favourites Spain and Germany.
Against Croatia, Daizen Maeda put his nation in the driving seat. But that lead was short-lived as Perisic equalised in the second half.
Croatia aim for the stars
The World Cup has been full of surprises, with favoured teams either getting knocked out in the group stage or losing to the so-called minnows.
So having been finalists in the last World Cup , Croatia are hoping to go one better this year. Something that would please their nation.
First penalty shoot-out
The group stage of the World Cup was not short of controversy. And that’s why the last-16 is expected to produce thrillers as well.
But after the Netherlands and England breezed into the quarter-finals, Croatia needed penalties in order to beat Japan.
Livakovic the penalty hero
The penalty shoot-outs are a lottery. But Croatia's goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic was the hero for his nation, saving three penalties.