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Japan's Thrilling Run Applauded by Fans After World Cup Loss to Croatia on Penalties

Joe TanseyDecember 5, 2022

AL WAKRAH, QATAR - DECEMBER 05: Japan players show dejection after their defeat through the penalty shoo during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Round of 16 match between Japan and Croatia at Al Janoub Stadium on December 05, 2022 in Al Wakrah, Qatar. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Julian Finney/Getty Images

Japan's incredible run at the 2022 FIFA World Cup came to an end on Monday in a penalty-shootout loss to Croatia.

The Samurai Blue were impressive over 120 minutes, as they held the 2018 runner-up to one goal.

Unfortunately for Japan, it had three penalties saved by Dominik Livakoviฤ‡ and was eliminated.

There was plenty of praise across the soccer world for Japan after the loss. Japan surprisingly won Group E with historic victories over Spain and Germany:

ESPN FC @ESPNFC

Japan beat two World Cup winners in Spain and Germany while pushing Croatia to penalties ๐Ÿ˜ฎ<br><br>They have so much to be proud of ๐Ÿ‡ฏ๐Ÿ‡ตโค๏ธ <a href="https://t.co/BwetMTzura">pic.twitter.com/BwetMTzura</a>

B/R Football @brfootball

Japan were knocked out in the last 16 of the 2018 World Cup with a 94th-minute winner in a game they led 2-0. <br><br>They were knocked out at the same stage this year on penalties. <br><br>Brutal ๐Ÿ’” <a href="https://t.co/GI17cfbmdR">pic.twitter.com/GI17cfbmdR</a>

Match of the Day @BBCMOTD

Commiserations, Japan ๐Ÿ™<br><br>WHAT a tournament from the Blue Samurai ๐Ÿซถ<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/BBCFootball?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#BBCFootball</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/BBCWorldCup?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#BBCWorldCup</a> <a href="https://t.co/HVNiE1PF0g">pic.twitter.com/HVNiE1PF0g</a>

Troll Football @Troll_Fotballl

โžก๏ธ Defeated Germany<br>โžก๏ธ Defeated Spain<br>โžก๏ธ Qualified for the knockout stage as a group topper.<br><br>What a tournament for Japan's national team๐Ÿ‡ฏ๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‘ <a href="https://t.co/hDHhXUvtQy">pic.twitter.com/hDHhXUvtQy</a>

Jason McIntyre @jasonrmcintyre

That's it. Croatia survives in PKs<br><br>Keeper is a legend. <br><br>Gutted for Japan. One of the most fun teams to watch in the World Cup. <br><br>Great match

Most of the reaction to Japan's loss was positive because of the nation's overall performance in Qatar, but there were some critics of its penalty takers, who went 1-for-4 against Livakoviฤ‡.

Jeffrey Wright @jfreewright

Japan repeatedly not lifting the ball on the PKs. Why?

Joseph Goodman, Sports Enthusiast ๐ŸŽŸ๐Ÿบ @JoeGoodmanJr

Japan going down on PKs. Hit the ball, guys.

Taylor Twellman @TaylorTwellman

Difficult penalties to watch and a bit surprising for such a technically efficient team like Japan.

Japan advanced to the round of 16 at the World Cup for the third time in its last four appearances. The nation will be looking for its elusive quarterfinal berth when the 2026 World Cup rolls around.

The Asian side has plenty of young talent and could once again make a mark on the tournament in four years.

Ryan Rosenblatt @RyanRosenblatt

Japan beat Germany and Spain with a lot of great young talent that will be back in four years. There's even more young talent waiting in the wings for 2026, too.<br><br>The Samurai Blue have something special brewing.

Dougie Critchley @DougieCritchley

Fair play Japan you were brilliant.<br><br>A unique style, incredible fans and players like Ito, Doan and Mitoma, who represent Reims, Freiburg and Brighton, embarrassing some of the Worldโ€™s biggest football nations and best players.<br><br>Already excited to see this team in 2026 ๐Ÿ‘

Anthony @anthonykyaw

Penalties are always a cruel way to lose. Japan made all of Asia proud with their performances this World Cup. They exceeded everyoneโ€™s expectations.<br><br>Something to build on for 2026. They are trending upwards with their player development.

mustaphashobri. @mustaphashobri

Hold your heads high, Japan. You'll be back stronger in 2026. ๐Ÿ‡ฏ๐Ÿ‡ต

Eighteen of the players that were on the 2022 World Cup roster are under 30, and a majority of them play in some of the biggest leagues in Europe, like Daichi Kamada at Eintracht Frankfurt in Germany and Takumi Minamino at Monaco in France's Ligue 1.

Four more years of development should help Japan once again get back to the World Cup knockout round.