Japan departs with big wins in World Cup but quarterfinal dream unfulfilled

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Soccer Football - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 - Round of 16 - Japan v Croatia - Al Janoub Stadium, Al Wakrah, Qatar - December 5, 2022 Japan's Shogo Taniguchi, Wataru Endo and teammates look dejected after losing the penalty shootout as Japan are eliminated from the World Cup

FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 – Round of 16 – Japan v Croatia – Al Janoub Stadium, Al Wakrah, Qatar – December 5, 2022 Japan’s Shogo Taniguchi, Wataru Endo and teammates look dejected after losing the penalty shootout as Japan are eliminated from the World Cup REUTERS/Dylan Martinez

DOHA—Japan will have much to remember from the World Cup, not least stunning upsets of Germany and Spain in the group stage, but ultimately they fell short of their cherished goal of making the quarter-finals for the first time.

The heartbreaking loss on penalties to Croatia on Monday will not entirely erase the memory of beating two former world champions for the first time but another loss in the last 16 will hurt a team who had been looking to make history.

The Samurai Blue had been to the first knockout round three times in six trips to the World Cup finals but had never gone any further, a…

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