The round of 16 clash between Japan and Croatia at the Al Janoub Stadium treated fans in attendance to over 120 minutes of premium football action.
QATAR 2022: Japan suffer shootout heartbreak against Croatia in round of 16
Japan have been knocked out of the 2022 FIFA World Cup following a penalty shootout defeat to Croatia
The game ended 1-1 in regulation time which prompted the need for extra time for the first time at this year's Mundial but the teams would prove inseparable again after 120 minutes of football.
Both teams would require penalty shootouts to be separated which saw Croatia emerge 3-1 winners to advance to the quarter-final while Japan's impressive World Cup campaign came to a premature end.
1-1 after regulation and extra time
The early exchanges were closely contested but Japan came closest to scoring with their first attack when Shogo Taniguchi headed wide.
Ivan Perisic had a one-on-one which was Croatia's best chance of the game as he burst through on goal after brushing past Takehiro Tomiyasu, only to shoot directly at Japan goalkeeper, Shuichi Gonda when one-on-one.
Japan landed the first significant blow on the stroke of half time when Daizen Maeda converted a dangerous right wing cross that wasn't dealt with by the Croatian defence.
Japan started the second half on the front foot but were sucker-punched by Croatia when Perisic equalised in the 55th minute with a wonderfully guided header that crept in at the far post.
Both teams maintained the intensity and created half chances but neither could find the decisive goal in regulation time which prompted extra time for the first time at the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
The extra 30 minutes was a dull affair though as both teams lacked intensity and seemed to resigned to settling the game via the luck of penalties.
Japan pay the penalty
Croatia goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic stole the show with three penalty saves to help his country advance with a 3-1 result much to the dismay of the Japanese.
Takumi Minamino started Japan on the backfoot as his penalty was saved and his teammate Kaoru Mitoma followed suit while Nikola Vlasic and Marcelo Brozovic converted theirs to make it 2-0 Croatia.
Even though Takuma Asano scored next and Croatia missed to give Japan some hope, it was swiftly expunged as Maya Yoshida was denied by Livakovic.
Mario Pasalic kept his nerve and netted the winning penalty, ensuring Croatia go through to face either South Korea or Brazil, while Japan suffered a World Cup round-of-16 defeat for the fourth time.