Japan are 1-0 up against Croatia, following a lovely corner routine – and unlike the two previous wins at this tournament, the Samurai Blue are playing with the ball and taking the game to the opposition.
Celtic star Daizen Maeda was loitering around the goal mouth waiting for the ball to drop after a short corner was whipped into the danger zone. Japan fired an early warning to the Croatians, too, with a similar move from that same corner – but failed to capitalise.
They're one of the most exciting teams at this tournament given their massive wins over some of Europe's big boys, with the same energy and hard running returning for this clash in the last-16 of the tournament. Japan look good for their lead, unlikely in previous games.
A 𝗵𝘂𝗴𝗲 goal for Japan! 🙌Celtic's Daizen Maeda makes no mistake, guiding the ball home from six yards ⚽🇯🇵 1-0 🇭🇷📺📻📲 Watch on @BBCiPlayer, listen on @BBCSounds and get more on the @BBCSport app#BBCWorldCup #BBCFootballDecember 5, 2022
Japan started with the more cautious 3-4-3 which proved fruitful against the Spanish, perhaps looking to cede possession to the likes of Luka Modric and Mateo Kovacic in midfield. The game started with the Croatians settling with a good tempo, though – and could have had the lead within seven minutes when Perisic was through and couldn’t beat Shuichi Gonda in goal from a tight angle.
They could have had the lead earlier, too. Another stunning move from the Japanese down the left of the pitch culminated in Eintracht Frankfurt attacker Daichi Kamada missing from the edge of the six-yard box. Embarrassingly for Kamada, the ball was put out for a throw-in.
The winner of this one faces Brazil or South Korea in the quarter-finals of the tournament.
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