In normal time, it was a tale of two contrasts; Japan dominated proceedings in the first half and missing several chances before the break, and Croatia having their share of dominance in the second half.
Croatia edge Japan 3-1 on penalties to reach quarter-finals
It took penalty shoots to separate Croatia and Japan.
Japan, buoyed by their group stage heroics including beating Germany and Spain to finish as group winners, carried on the form against Croatia that were runners-up behind Morocco in group stage.
With a bit of psychological edge, Japan started off brilliantly and dominated proceedings in the opening minutes, creating several chances. The efforts would be rewarded when Celtic's Daizen Maeda gave Japan the lead just two minutes from the end of the break.
Three Blue Samurais linked up for a corner and Ritsu Doan whipped the final cross which hit a couple of players before crossing the path of Maeda who took the gift, making no In the second half, Japan fell back allowing Croatia into the game as they staged a comeback fight. Just ten minutes later, veteran Ivan Persic scored his tenth major tournament goal finding the equaliser.
In the 55th minute, Josip Juranovic pulled the ball back to Dejan Lovren, who whipped in a cross from deep. Perisic got free to head the ball into the bottom corner.
In the 63rd minute Luka Modric hit a rising and dipping half-volley from 20 yards only to be denied by the goalie.
Following evenly braced extra-time, only penalties could separate the two sides. Croatia goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic saved three Japanese penalties to send 2018 runners up to the quarterfinals