Japan forward Daizen Maeda scores his team’s first goal in the Qatar 2022 World Cup round of 16 football match between Japan and Croatia at Al-Janoub Stadium in Al-Wakrah, south of Doha on December 5, 2022. | Photo Credit: AFP
Daizen Maeda scored from a well-worked short corner just before the break to give Japan a 1-0 halftime lead over Croatia in their World Cup last-16 clash on Monday.
Maeda connected Ritsu Doan’s cross to break the deadlock in the 43rd minute as both sides battled for the right to face either Brazil or South Korea, who play later on Monday, in the quarter-finals.
Japan coach Hajime Moriyasu brought Takehiro Tomiyasu into his defense in place of the suspended Ko Itakura as one of three changes to his side for Monday’s FIFA World Cup last-16 game against Croatia.
Itakura received his second yellow card of the tournament in Japan’s stunning defeat to Spain in their final group match, so Tomiyasu started, having made two appearances off the bench as he struggled to shake off an injury.
Moriyasu also brought Wataru Endo and Ritsu Doan back into his midfield at the expense of Takefusa Kubo and Ao Tanaka, who scored against Spain.
Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic made two changes to his largely settled starting line-up, bringing on Borna Barisic for Borna Sosa at left back and Bruno Petkovic for Marko Livaja in midfield.
Shuichi Gonda; Takehiro Tomiyasu, Maya Yoshida (captain), Shogo Taniguchi; Junya Ito, Wataru Endo, Hidemasa Morita, Yuto Nagatomo; Ritsu Doan, Daichi Kamada, Daizen Maeda
coaches: Hajime Moriyasu (JPN)
Dominik Livakovic; Josip Juranovic, Dejan Lovren, Josko Gvardiol, Borna Barisic; Mateo Kovacic, Luka Modric (captain), Marcelo Brozovic; Ivan Perisic, Andrej Kramaric, Bruno Petkovic
coaches: Zlatko Dalic (CRO)
Referee: Ismail Elfath (USA)
(With input from agencies)