Croatia has a new hero.
In a tight round of 16 contest against Japan in the 2022 FIFA World Cup on Monday, the Vatreni emerged victorious in the first penalty shootout of the tournament.
And that’s when Dominik Livaković announced himself to the world.
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The 27-year-old Dinamo Zagreb goalkeeper saved Takumi Minamino’s opening attempt and Kaoru Mitoma’s follow-up. Takuma Asano scored on Japan’s third try, but Livaković rose to the occasion yet again when he blocked Maya Yoshida on the fourth shot.
Livaković made history as he became just the third goalkeeper in World Cup history to make three saves in a single penalty shootout, which is also the most in one go.
Portugal goalkeeper Ricardo saved three of England’s penalties in the 2006 quarterfinals to win the shootout 3-1. Danijel Subašić, also of Croatia, saved three against Denmark in the 2018 round of 16 to win the shootout 3-2 en route to the nation’s run to the World Cup Final.
Japan and Croatia entered the game as the most even matchup among the eight round of 16 games. Whereas the Vatreni want to spread around passes with their strong midfield and deliver in crosses from the flanks, the Samurai Blue like to sit deep and break out on the counter with their speedy outlets.
Goals from Daizen Maida in the 43rd minute and Ivan Perišić in the 55th kept things level in regulation and during an additional 30 minutes of extra time, sending the game to a do-or-die penalty shootout.
Croatia will now play the winner of Brazil vs. South Korea in the quarterfinal on Friday, Dec. 9.