Pundits criticise Japan's penalty technique after three Croatian saves

‘It was too big for them’: Pundits criticise Japan’s woeful penalty technique after three of their four shootout attempts were saved to see their World Cup campaign ended by Croatia

  • Croatia defeated Japan 3-1 on penalties to progress to the quarter-finals 
  • Pundits afterwards criticised Japan’s woeful technique in the decisive shootout 
  • Alan Shearer said the situation was ‘too big’ for the Japanese players to handle 
  • Croatia will face the winner of the last-16 game between Brazil and South Korea 
  • Find more of Sportsmail’s latest World Cup stories from Qatar as they happen

Japan’s penalty technique has been mauled after they saw three of their four shots saved during their exit from the World Cup at the hands of Croatia.

Japan and Croatia played out a 1-1 draw, before the European side got through their shootout as 3-1 victors, aided by a string of saves from Dominik Livakovic.  

Japan took the lead late in the first half through Daizen Maeda, but Ivan Perisic equalised for Croatia in the 55th minute.

In the shootout, Takumi Minamino, Kaoru Mitoma and Maya Yoshida all had their shots saved, which allowed Croatian substitute Mario Pasalic to dispatch the winning penalty with just their fourth shot of the usual five. 

Maya Yoshida was the third Japan player to see his penalty saved in the shootout with Croatia

Pundit Alan Shearer was among those hitting out at Japan’s penalty technique after their exit

BBC pundit Alan Shearer was less than impressed with Japan’s penalty taking skills – and felt they needed to strike the ball harder in their attempts from 12 yards out.

Shearer said: ‘They’re just so casual when they walk up to take their penalties. I’m not sure any of them strike the ball as much or as well as they wanted to.

‘What happened to putting the ball down, picking your spot and hitting it as hard as you can?’

Fellow pundit Ashley Williams felt Japan lacked ‘conviction’ when stepping up for penalties

Fellow pundit Ashley Williams said: ‘I think in these kind of moments you could just see it seemed like the Japanese penalties had a lack of conviction and a little bit there wasn’t as much confidence as the Croatians to dispatch it and that would’ve come from experience.

‘It’s tough because they had such a good first half, it’s a shame for them. They’ve been great all tournament.’

Shearer added: ”The experience told in the end. The guys who had been there and done it before know what it’s like to be put under pressure in that situation and they (Croatia) handled it so much better. 

Dominik Livakovic made three crucial saves in Croatia’s penalty shootout win over Japan

Kaoru Mitoma was one of those who saw his shot saved by the exceptional work of Livakovic

‘It was so frustrating from the Japanese point of view it was like they’d never practiced penalties, it was too big for them.’ 

Four years ago in Russia, Croatia defeated Denmark on penalties in the same round, as well as the tournament hosts themselves in the quarter-final six days later. 

Livakovic, the 27-year-old shotstopper, was the hero in Croatia’s progression to the quarter-final. 

The Dinamo Zagreb player became just the third goalkeeper to save three penalties in a single shootout at the World Cup, joining Portugal’s Ricardo in 2006 and Croatian counterpart Subasic, who made three saves during their 2018 win over Denmark.

Takumi Minamino saw his first penalty saved, as Japan lost the shootout 3-1 to the Croatians

The 27-year-old shotstopper Livakovic plays his club football for Croatia’s Dinamo Zagreb 

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