Qatar: Japan have again failed to reach the last eight at a World Cup final after being beaten in a penalty shoot-out by 2018 finalist Croatia.
Dominik Livakovic was Croatia’s hero, saving three of Japan’s four penalties.
The goalkeeper ducked left to save Takumi Minamino’s weak opening kick, then right to block another weak one from Kaoru Mitoma.
Meanwhile, Nikola Vlasic and Marcelo Brozovic scored.
Takuma Asano kept Japan’s hopes alive and when Marko Livaja hit the post it was 2-1 each after three kicks.
But Livakovic went right and again chose right, denying veteran defender Maya Yoshida.
That gave Mario Pasalic the chance to guide Croatia through. He took it.
The Blue Samurai, who had attempted to become the first Asian team to reach the last eight since South Korea in 2002, and only the second to do so on foreign soil after North Korea in 1966, had fallen in the last 16 stage for the fourth time.